Henry Colangelo + Claire Chu=Baby Chulangelita

My daughter met Henry Colangelo when she was in college.  They traveled the world together, teasing and supporting each other.

Then Henry met Claire and I think everyone who knew Henry fell as much in love with her as he did. My generous daughter shared these dear friends at waffle breakfasts and pizza grill nights.  Henry and Claire invited us to their home for a marvelous chicken pot pie.

We were all happy for them and sad for us when Henry landed his first choice for residency in Colorado and Claire found a job, too.

Henry and Claire have had the most playful way of including friends (and friends’ parents) in the joy of their baby to come.  Yesterday they cane back to Chapel Hill for a shower. I’ve packed up a big box of  the newest baby titles and thought to share these books  with those expecting new babies, grandchildren, or attending celebrations for babies soon to arrive.

Books Every Baby Should Have:

Mother Goose

There’s a reason these classic poems have endured–rhythm and rhyme renew them generation after generation.

Danna Smith’s Mother Goose’s Pajama Party (Doubleday, 0-6) has a story of all the familiar (and a few not so familiar) Mother Goose characters who arrive to spend an overnight with her.  After a tender goodnight, the rhymes of the story’s stars follow.


Iona Opie’s Snuggle Up with Mother Goose (Candlewick) has sixteen familiar rhymes illustrated by Rosemary Wells in a sturdy board book. Her recognizable (and adorable) bunny illustrations evoke warm cuddling sharing.



Counting Books

Babies grow into counting books.  They begin by naming the objects and later count them.  New in board book is Anthony Browne’s One Gorilla: A Counting Book (Candlewick, ages 1-5).

Browne, who adores drawing primates, counts from 1 gorilla to 10 lemurs, and last a self-portrait that represents the connection he feels.  The book ends with a full page spread showing human diversity.

Early Tales

Early stories are part of a baby-raising tradition.  These  rhythmic, simple tales endure because they speak to children.

Classic Children’s Tales is produced Penguin to commemorate 150 years of publishing. Early tales from Beatrix Potter, Randolph Caldecott, Kate Greenaway and Edward Lear are all proceeded with introductions by today’s well-known authors and illustrators.

Concept Books

Early learning about colors, shapes and more has become more fun because of the range of playful innovative concept books.

Case, in point? Ashley Evanson’s Hello World series introduces concepts and cities at the same time (all of these listed below are from Grosset & Dunlap, ages 0-2). This graphically pleasing series is  enjoyable for parents to share as they expose new babies to both ideas and cities that the child may one day see.

 New York: A Book of Colors

 London: A Book of Opposites

Paris: A Book of Shapes

San Francisco: A Book of Numbers 

Song Books

Like books with strong rhythms, song books can calm and jolly babies and parents alike through good moods and bad.

The classic “If You’re Happy and You Know It”  is transformed in Musical Robot’s version If You’re A Robot and You Know It (Scholastic, ages 0-5) and the pop-up illustrations by David Carter add to the fun by illustrating verses like “If you’re a robot and you know it shoot laser beams out of your eyes.”

New Classics

What makes a book last through the decades–the two below have endured because of their rhythms and repetitions.

It’s been 20 years since Sam McBratney published Guess How Much I Love You (Candlewick), the story of Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare who end their night by trying to put their love into words. As if this story isn’t dear enough, now the board book comes with a plush little rabbit for baby to hold.

Audrey and Don Woods’ The Napping House (HMH) is a cumulative story about a non-napping boy and creatures who gradually are persuaded to nap.  It’s pleased babies and toddlers with its refrains for 30 years.  Now it’s in board book and it has a companion.  The same character’s are back and so are the rhythms and and refrains in The Full Moon at the Napping House (HMH)


Board Books

Sturdy, thick pages stand up to years of reading and re-reading and a bit of gnawing along the way. They’re easy to slip into diaper bags so they can travel with you.  Below are two beloved stories, new in board book format, that Claire and Henry can read later.

Martin Waddell’s Owl Babies (Candlewick,ages 3-5) is the story of three baby owls who grow ever more nervous when their mom doesn’t return.  This is a bit scary, but replicates those feelings of missing and knowing that mummies and daddies always do always return in the end.


Suzanne Bloom’s A Splendid Friend, Indeed (Boyds Mills Press, ages 3-5) won a Theodore Geisel Honor for a great book to read aloud. It stars a word-loving bear and his friendship-loving duck friend.


Books About Growing Up

Supporting independence and self-reliance will come sooner than Henry and Claire know. Emma Dodd’s