Sunday, 9 June 2013

Book shower! - Anne Rooney

This is not the post I was going to write. I was planning to write about the scandalous announcement by St John's School in Epping that it is to throw away all the non-fiction books in its library and encourage the children to use the web instead. Children don't need books...

But instead I will share something far more cheerful and inspiring and that proves that St John's School is so very wrong.
 
I know a young person who is expecting a baby. She is 17. (Please leave your preconceptions by the door.) Apparently, these days British mothers  - at least those who grew up to the soundtrack of Friends - have adopted the American practice of having a baby shower. This involves all the friends and perhaps relatives of the mother (and father? I don't know) coming to a party and giving gifts for the embryo in anticipation of its imminent babyhood. Call me cynical, but this strikes me - like wedding lists - as a particularly blatant way of eliciting presents from people who might otherwise have bought nothing, or something cheaper (or more personal) than the items on the list.

When I made this grouchy-old-English-person view clear to the young person she told me that she was going to ask her friends NOT to buy baby clothes or toys or any of the other usual paraphernalia.

Instead, she plans to ask each guest to a bring a book so that she can start a library for her baby. She would like them to bring either a book they enjoyed as a child, or that they have seen since and think looks good. It doesn't have to be a new book, either in terms of publication date or physical object. It can come from a secondhand shop, or their own shelves, or can be bought for 1p from an Amazon reseller. Each person will inscribe the book. She looks forward, she says, not only to starting a library for her child but to what she will learn about each of her friends from their choices.


I asked her if she minded me sharing this story on ABBA and she said she didn't. Perhaps it will inspire other young proto-mothers to do the same. I think it's a beautiful idea, and have completely revised my view of baby showers - at least if they are done like this. And - assuming I'm invited - I shall so enjoy choosing a book! What would you give?

Anne Rooney (aka Stroppy Author)
(and on Facebook)

17 comments:

Elen C said...

It's a nice idea (and babyshowers can be nice too. We have one whenever one of the women leaves work on maternity leave. It's a ritual to say goodbye and good luck as much as anything.) I always give 'Baby Catalogue' by the Ahlbergs and tell the parents that you can read to a tiny baby, you don't need to wait until it can understand words.

Nicola Morgan said...

It's a wonderful idea. One of those ideas where there are no losers, no downsides. Hooray! There's one baby who is going to get a good start in life.

Pippa Goodhart said...

Brilliant! Exactly right for all concerned. Much better to be born to an instant, and very personal, library than with a silver spoon in one's mouth!

Pippa Goodhart said...

A further thought -
I think that the young mum should write an article about her idea for one of those Baby magazines. It's such a good, simple, idea, but also fits in nicely with the being clever in hard financial times vibe.

Sue Purkiss said...

It's a great idea. I would give 'Peace At Last' by Jill Murphy - sheer genius.

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gruffmaths said...

Good post and a lovely idea. My daughter was invited to a "baby shower" and gave 'I saw Esau' by Iona & Peter Opie, illustrated by Maurice Sendak - a book every child should have.

Juliet said...

Lovely idea. I'd give "Each Peach, Pear, Plum" by the Ahlbergs.

Stroppy Author said...

Thank you, Pippa - I'll suggest that to her next time I see her.

I'd forgotten all about The Baby Catalogue - that's fabulous. And Each Peach is, too. And 'I saw Esau'. This will be hard. I was gravitating towards Where the Wild Things Are, but someone else is bound to get that.

tracy alexander said...

I love that idea. My friend is having a baby in October and I'm going to suggest it to her.

Pippa Goodhart said...

Could this be suggested for the Royal baby, making it THE thing to do for babies? Just a thought!

Susan Price said...

I would give 'In The Night Kitchens' by Sendak. And/or that one - can never remember the title - where the postman delivers letters to fairy-tale characters.

Stroppy Author said...

Pippa, your ideas get better and better... As I haven't ANY idea when the royal baby is due, I don't know if it's too late. But it would be a great thing to do. Will look up the date and ponder the possibilities...

catdownunder said...

Katie Morag and the Tiresome Ted (Hedderwick) Everyone needs at least one Katie Morag title in their library!

adele said...

What a brilliant idea! And all Pippa's ideas are wonderful!

Emma Barnes said...

Goodnight Moon...it's so soothing, which is what ever parent and baby needs.

C.J.Busby said...

What a great idea! I'd be tempted to choose a book for when they're older - a really lovely Arthur Rackham-illustrated Fairy Tales book, say - or Ted Hughes, How the Whale Became - but if it was picture books, Owl Babies is fabulous...