Books on Oliver’s shelves

Oliver and books

Last Christmas, shortly after announcing my pregnancy, I received a gift for Baby J that made me cry — and it wasn’t just the hormones: two sweet board books from Magan at Rather Be Reading, favorites of her daughter’s. The official beginning of our little one’s library.

In April, Baby J became Oliver, and our son’s book collection has grown exponentially. Like many excited readers and parents-to-be, I’ve been quietly building his stash for years. I wrote about my “secret” book-buying back when he was the proverbial twinkle in my eye, and I’m finally able to share many of the books I’ve been collecting with him.

At nearly 6 months old, Ollie is starting to show an interest in “reading.” I prop him up in my lap with a book in front of us, then try to be patient as we’re inevitably interrupted by baby hands slapping the pages or a hunger cry breaking the momentum.

I love reading aloud. Not to, you know, toot my own horn or anything, but I was pretty much the designated class reader in fourth and fifth grade. So.

Since my reading talents have been dormant for the better part of two decades, I’m really livin’ it up now. The whole reading-to-my-belly thing never felt natural, but reading to an actual infant is an entirely different experience.

Ollie is too little to have obvious preferences, but he does kick his little feet crazily to a few “favorite” books. Here’s what we have stacked in the nursery right now.

(And P.S.: taking a page out of Steph’s book, I created a Goodreads shelf to catalog Ollie’s reading adventures. I plan to keep up with them there!)


Children's books


The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
Illustrated by Dan Hanna
This unique, adorable story — with very clever rhyming — chronicles the Pout-Pout Fish’s excuses to friends as to why he’s a total downer. A shot at love turns that frown upside down. The Pout-Pout Fish is so much fun to read, I find myself thinking of the little rhymes — “I’m a pout-pout fish with a pout-pout face . . .” — throughout my work day. You know: alone.


On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
If you want an instant parent tearjerker, look no further. A sweet, soothing story describing the uniqueness of each child welcomed into the world.

Nothing we’ve read feels as personal nor has impacted me as deeply as this book, which was a gift from a family friend in New York. We didn’t receive it until Oliver had been home from the NICU for a few weeks, but I read it once and immediately fell in love. I’ve read it with and without Ollie, and have the entire story memorized.

The “night” part is what gets me, I guess. Oliver was born at almost 10 p.m. I remember laying alone in my hospital room after my husband went to see him, the first person in our family to touch his tiny hand. Though I know it’s cliche, we were changed forever. On the Night You Were Born so perfectly summarizes those feelings for me, and how special and unique each tiny baby is. It’s just . . . a beautiful book.


Don Quixote by Jennifer Adams
Illustrated by Alison Oliver
This retelling of Miguel de Cervantes’ famous story is simple, but compelling to little eyes: bold colors and vivid illustrations with both English and Spanish words. Something about this book ignites a fire in Ollie; he kicks his feet like a madman and loves it.


Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
Illustrated by Leslie Staub
A story that packs a powerful punch. Regardless of skin color, nationality or origin, children everywhere are alike, linked and connected. A great primer for teaching about differences, tolerance and friendship.


Firebears, the Rescue Team by Rhonda Gowler Greene
Illustrated by Dan Andreasen
If you know a future firefighter (or even if you don’t), Firebears will captivate them. The story of a rescue squad ready to (adorably) protect the community, the Firebears come to the aid of neighbors and cats stuck in trees before fighting home fires.

Given I was a child so paranoid about flames that my parents purchased a fold-up ladder for my second-story bedroom, this might have freaked me out as a tot — but the message about safety is a good one, and I love the vertical images of the bears sliding down the fire pole. Cuteness.


The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This classic has enchanted me since childhood with its bright colors, beautiful illustrations and evolution of a hungry caterpillar who eats everything, then eventually emerges as a butterfly. This was the very first book I read to Ollie (who slept the whole time, of course): short and truly sweet!


A Halloween Scare In . . . by Eric James
Illustrated by Marina La Ray
Written for each state (we have Maryland), this Halloween story will delight children and parents equally with its local places, clever state connections (the flag on a mailbox!) and cute story about being yourself and facing fears. My hometown is mentioned, which is really icing on the witch-shaped cake. Very adorable!


I’m always seeking new reads for Oliver’s collection. What are some of your favorites? What books do your little ones adore? Please share!


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19 thoughts on “Books on Oliver’s shelves

  1. The kids in my life love “The day the crayons quit” and The day the crayons came home”. Both really adorable books. This will also tell my age but I always loved Paddington, Eloise, and the Bernstien Bears.

  2. I love seeing what other babies/children are reading. Children’s books are so adorable. When my guy was Oliver’s age, he loved Sandra Boynton’s board books as well as Karma Wilson’s. He still loves Karma Wilson’s Bear books. Enjoy this special time with your little man! 🙂

    • I’ve heard good things about Sandra Boynton and have a few little books already, I think? Will look for Karma Wilson. Thanks, Christina!

  3. Oliver has some great classic board books there. Back in the day, my colleague bought my firstborn “Hug” by Jez Alborough. We loved that one. And when Oliver gets older, he may laugh his head off at “Who Flung Dung” by Ben Redlich. My two girls howled with laughter at this picture book.

  4. We love anything by Sandra Boynton. I don’t know if it was the sleep deprivation but I found myself laughing aloud at her books.

    By the way, the picture makes me want to squeeze him really hard and then cuddle him. Too cute!

  5. These are great! We’re slowly building up Baby T’s book collection, too. He has his own amazon wish list for the upcoming holidays and it basically just has books on it (and a few essentials for when he starts solid food). He really seems to love Hippos Go Berserk right now and starts flapping his hands and kicking his feet when we get to the “All the hippos go berserk!” page. I’ve also pre-ordered him the illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which should hopefully be shipping soon. 🙂

  6. Ooh, I’ll have to look for the New York version of that Halloween book. I LOVE Halloween books. We’ve already got a few but I always want more!

    The Pout-Pout Fish is so cute! I really like that one.

    We have the board book for On The Night You Were Born too. Ugh. I’m a sucker for those kinds of emotional books for parents. I love If I Could Keep You Little too.

    My favorite one to read to Caleb is Goodnight Moon. I never read it as a kid myself, but I got it as a gift for him and I love it now.

  7. My sister is trying to get pregnant, and my excitement at imminent unclehood has combined with my bibliophilia, so I’m buying her a baby book* one day a month until baby comes.

    Growing up, my favorite was The Little Engine That Could. From my work at a preschool, I’ve also become a big Pete the Cat fan.

    *By “a baby book” I mean one unless I see another one I really want to get, in which case it might be two, or three…

  8. When I was a few months pregnant, I set up a Goodreads account for my baby. And I’ve been adding books there since. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who’s been planning their baby’s reads. My mom keeps asking me to slow down but I simply cannot wait to share all my favorite books with my girl.

  9. You absolutely need to get any of Sandra Boynton’s books. Our favorites were Snuggle Puppy and The Barnyard Dance. One of Holly’s favorites to this day is The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis. All three are made for singing and dance and just having fun while reading.

  10. I’m so glad you shared these! Our little girl already has quite a library of books. I saved some from my own childhood and have been collecting them for years. I love hearing recommendations for new ones! I can’t wait to read to her.

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