Baby’s bookshelf

Where the Wild Things Are - on the bookshelfMaybe we’re jumping the gun a bit. We’ve already started creating our child’s library.

We both envision Baby Vilhauer growing up and becoming an avid reader, a brilliant brainiac with charm abound, ready to light the world on fire and claim it as his/hers. So we’re attempting to develop an early love for books and reading and stories and cute characters by decorating BV’s room with books. Glorious books.

It’s easy, actually. I had forgotten how many brilliant children’s characters were out there – how many personalities are lodged in my memory from my own childhood, sprouted back to life by the simple flip of a page. And the books? Some of them are brilliantly conceived, just as fun to read for adults as it is for kids; smart and clever, but still low enough to make sense to the developing mind.

So, armed with thoughts of the future, we started stockpiling the classics – the beautiful and brilliant books that shaped our lives growing up. In addition, we’re supplementing the books with something more tangible – stuffed animals, toddler toys and other items pertaining to the classics. It’s a literary children’s wonderland.

The library started early, actually. In high school, I made it a point to purchase Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs – a wonderful book about weather created out of food. The illustrations were fantastic, and considering all the times I had checked it out when I was younger, I felt I had to have it in my collection. Additionally, we had been collecting kids books throughout our lives. Kerrie already had the Chronicles of Narnia set, and we have every Harry Potter book in hardcover. In New Orleans we purchased The Little Prince from Beaucoup Books. We bought Love You Forever just a few weeks ago after getting our ultrasound pictures.

Our recent trip doubled our current collection. An unbudgeted repayment offered us the chance to purchase books outside of our current means, so we headed down to Barnes and Noble (and, surprisingly, TJMaxx) in search of the classics. The baby’s new books now include:

Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day
Harold and the Purple Crayon
A Treasury of Curious George
Where the Wild Things Are
The Eleventh Hour

We also included a small stuffed animal from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. We’re both terribly excited. We’re already looking forward to grabbing Goodnight Moon and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Yes, I know. We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Some of these books aren’t exactly considered toddler level selections. Some of these books won’t be cracked for years – decades, in the case of The Eleventh Hour, a mystery picture book with advanced language and beautiful illustrations. But we’ve got them. They’ll be familiar. And they look neat. They’re colorful and fun.

And now here’s the dilemma we pose with this pathological book collecting – we are only able to influence, not direct. The scary part about raising a child is doing the right thing and presenting the proper influences. But even given all of the planning and careful exposure and overwrought worry, we can’t control and direct how our baby will develop.

Regardless of the material we place around the baby’s room, we can’t force our baby to love books. We can’t open a book and command reading as a fun pastime. In four years, when reading has become an activity that can be shared, will these books even resonate anymore?

Really, all we can do is give him/her a chance by introducing some of our favorites, as time goes on, and letting the decision create itself out of a blossoming mind. We’ll read them out loud. We’ll support BV’s choices. We’ll try to be as understanding as possible, but we’ll also attempt to pass this love that Kerrie and I possess on to our child. Maybe our kid won’t think a trip the library is a fun idea. Hopefully they will.

Even though it’s out of our hands, we can still dream. Right?

This was lovingly handwritten on March 22nd, 2007