Gracie has entered this wonderful phase of wanting to sit on my lap and read books; as a former bookstore employee and niece of a bookstore owner, I am thrilled! I’ve always loved books of all kinds, but now I’m having fun learning about great books for babies and children, too. One of my favorite places to get ideas for new books is from Vanessa at Silly Eagle Books.
In Vanessa’s own words, she’s just a little bit obsessed with children’s books She loves reading them, writing about them, and sharing them with others – in particular, with her preschool daughter, Juliet. I’m planning to have a regular feature here on the blog of “Best Books for Babies” but first, I thought it would be super to have an expert talk to us about blogging, books and kids. Please read on for our latest “Blogger Spotlight:” here’s Vanessa!
Q: When & why did you start blogging?
A: I started blogging about 2 years ago after a friend of mine suggested that I try it out. She insisted that I would LOVE it, but I was skeptical. I remember writing my first post and then deciding that I just could not do it–I think I even contemplated deleting my blog permanently. But after a few days (weeks?) off, I went back to it and haven’t looked back. (She was right, by the way, I DO love it.)
Q: As a mom, what does blogging mean to you?
A: Blogging is a place for me to be creative and to have something separate from my life as a stay-at-home mom. Even though I write about my kids and my life as a mom, the blog is holding my “career” spot for now. I have a degree in English literature, taught high school English and worked as a textbook writer for several years before having kids. Writing a children’s book blog feels like it goes with those things that I used to do and it makes me feel like I haven’t completely left those skills and interests behind.
Q: Is there any advice you can offer to new parents about how to nurture a love of reading?
A: Make reading a part of your daily routine from the time they are babies until they grow up and move out. Fill your bookshelves with beautiful books, make them accessible to your kids, and read with them as often as you can. Let them see you reading your own books as well. Kids do what they see. If they see that reading is important to you, it will be important to them.
Q: I love the craft projects you do with your daughters on the blog that are inspired by the books you share. What made you begin to associate books with art? And what has been your favorite project?
A: The illustrations of many vintage children’s books have always intrigued me. I think I just went from “Wow, I want to rip this page out and frame it” to “let’s see if I can make this” one day. Sometimes, we’ve had great results with our projects, but sometimes it’s a complete flop. The only problem with my creations is that now my oldest daughter believes that I can make ANYTHING she sees in a book. When I tell her that I absolutely cannot build her an actual fairy house out of an old watering can (one that she can fit inside), she just looks at me with a puzzled look and says, “Well, why not, Mom?!” So basically, I need to find a giant watering can ASAP.
Q: Many new and expectant parents want to build a small, but special library for their babies. What are your top recommendations for them?
A: I love cloth books for babies because they let you begin the “reading” experience early with your child. Just sitting down with your baby and letting him grab at the pages is a start in the reading journey. Jellycat makes some really special cloth books. I like all the interactive elements of their books. Ikea also usually has a really great cloth baby book in their toy collection. Priddy cloth books are another go-to favorite in our house.
The next step is board books. I suggest Good Night Moon, Pat the Bunny, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? as must-have classics. Then I would recommend a few Karen Katz titles for some “I love you” books. (Counting Kisses is our favorite.) Then add a few of your favorite ABC and counting books. (I love Charley Harper’s ABC board book and 10 Black Dots by Donald Crews.) And everyone needs a copy of Mem Fox’s Time for Bed.
Of course, I could go on and on all day about this, so if you are interested in more of my favorites, you can check out my baby book guide on my blog!
Q: And I have to know, what is your favorite Graco product? Was it the same for both of your daughters?
A: I love the Snugrider Stroller! We discovered it a bit late with my first daughter, but still got a lot of use out of it especially during trips to the airport. It made transporting my baby/toddler and her car seat so much easier. With my second daughter we used it exclusively during the first six months: for shopping trips, church, walks around the block, etc. I love that it is easy to open and drop the car seat right in–both my babies loved being pushed around all snug and cozy in their car seat. Also, the storage underneath is perfect for all my gear.
How often do you read to your little ones?
What are the books that they love you to read to them over (and over… and over) again?