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December 27, 2013

Carla Buckley on the Best Books for Babies

Posted by emily

Carla Buckley's third novel, THE DEEPEST SECRET, releases on February 4th, following INVISIBLE and THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE, which was nominated for a Thriller Award as a best first novel and the Ohioana Book Award for fiction. In her forthcoming book, Eve Lattimore's son has a rare medical condition that makes him fatally sensitive to light. When tragedy strikes, it becomes clear that there are some crises Eve cannot control --- and some secrets that not even love can conceal. In her Holiday Author Blog, Carla writes about the unusual children’s books she received as gifts when she was pregnant with her first child, and how they are still fan favorites among her three kids.

When I was seven months pregnant with my first child, I was put on bed rest. My husband and I were new to Greensboro, having just moved there the previous summer, and because we were both busy adjusting to new jobs and impending parenthood, we really didn’t have much of an opportunity to meet our neighbors and make friends. So I never had a baby shower --- at least not the typical kind. Instead, the mailman brought the shower to me. Every day or so, a package would arrive, and it truly lifted my spirits to unwrap the darling little clothes, soft blankets, stuffed toys. But the most interesting gifts of all were the books we received. Not the more usual fare you might expect new parents might get, like GOODNIGHT MOON and PAT THE BUNNY, but books I’d never heard of: Dorling Kindersley’s THE BOOK OF BABIES, IS YOUR MAMA A LLAMA? by Deborah Guarino, and TEN IN THE BED by Penny Dale. I paged through those books, wondering why the friends who had sent them (all of them experienced parents) had chosen them, and then I set them aside.

When our daughter was three months old, we began to read to her. And within a few months, it was clear she had favorites, especially the three we’d been given before she was born. She loved Kindersley’s baby book so much, she tore every corner in her eagerness to turn the page. By the time she was a toddler, she could recite all the words to IS YOUR MAMA A LLAMA? (and we both still do, to this day), and she literally danced whenever I read TEN IN THE BED in the sing-songy voice she loved.

That’s when I understood why our friends had shared these particular books. Babies love to look at photographs of other babies. They love clever rhythm and rhyme. They love a good joke. When my next two children came along, they loved these books too, and added a few more of their own: David Carter’s THE BIG BUG BOOK and all the I Spy books by Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick (which were worth their weight in gold when I was stuck for hours with a restless child at the orthodontist or on an endless car trip).

Years later, these are the five books I send along to new parents, and I admit I can never just wrap them up. I usually have to stop and flip through the pages first. I think of all the memories these stories made when my children were little, and I imagine all the memories that are about to made.