Giving books to the youngest readers …

One of my writer buddies, Diane Marty, believes in building a child’s library from birth. That’s why she gives books as baby gifts. Brilliant! With those gifts, she includes the lovely sentiments below and gave me permission to share.


I am giving you and your child what I treasure most. Words. Stories. Books.

Long after a neighbor inherits the baby bottles, the gifts from showers become donations, and the high chair begins its lonely wait for the next generation in the basement, your child will recall the stories embedded in his youth.

My most enduring memories are of reading to my daughters. I can still close my eyes and feel their weight in my arms and smell their freshly washed hair as they took turns opening to the first pages. The instant that cover opened, earthly boundaries evaporated. We traveled through times, across distances, into other worlds unfettered and mesmerized.

The day I overheard my oldest grandson chanting the refrain from a familiar fable, I realized that some of these childhood stories have become part of our family legacy—they had been transformed into an inheritance as precious as grandma’s afghan, dad’s headboard or the fading photos in our closet.

So, you see, these volumes are much more than the sum total of their components—mere paper and ink. They are passports. To dreams. To wisdom. To adventures. So, indulge yourselves with abandon. Explore new terrains ceaselessly. Share the laughter, love and longing along the way. And return when you will……

Bon voyage!


Your second child! The wash has not doubled, but mysteriously quadrupled. The term “multi-task” has taken on new meaning as you answer the phone, feed the baby and fold laundry at the same time. And—perhaps, the most significant change of all—your home, your heart and your hopes burst with a new fullness.

Even as the pockets of silence shrink, your day expands to match the demands and the attitude of a person who weighs just slightly more than a bowling ball. You’re in a magical zone. And time’s irretrievable nature ensures an end to that zone.

So, spend it wisely. Peanut butter sandwiches will replace meatloaf and mashed potatoes in a pinch. You can wash the sheets tomorrow. And organizing the family photos will be a great project for your retirement years.

But no matter how scarce white space on your calendar becomes, sacrifice reading with your children only in the most dire of conditions. The opportunity to share stories is highly perishable, the expiration date always imminent.

Life will unfold for this new soul, yielding its promise, purpose and potential. An environment wild with words, lush with language, saturated with stories, will ensure the colorful present unfurls to meet a vibrant future. Happy reading!

Do you give books as gifts? If you decide to give one of mine, let me know, and I’ll send an autographed book sticker to go along with it!

5 Responses to “Giving books to the youngest readers …”

  1. Laurie Thompson

    These are beautiful sentiments, Jean. Thanks for sharing! I always give books as baby gifts. The books our own children received as baby gifts were some of our most used and are still some of our most treasured objects. Heck, I still have a pile of beloved books from my own childhood! I also think carefully chosen books can be more personal than most other gifts, speaking volumes about the giver

  2. Jean Reidy

    So true, Laurie. I still have gift books from my childhood and my children's with inscriptions from the givers. They hold a very special place on my shelves.

  3. Laura S.

    I LOVE this post, Jean. I have two kids and we always give books as birthday presents when they go to parties. Their friends and their parents have come to expect book gifts from us and the books are always well received. Thanks also for sharing the lovely notes your friend encloses in gift books for babies. I'm certain the parents who receive them treasure the notes as much as the books.

  4. Jean Reidy

    Laura,<br />Thanks for sharing your book giving experiences. I hope more people will consider your practice. It&#39;s golden.<br />Jean