From great books and songs, to websites and blogs, to simply ideas shared among friends and strangers alike, inspiration for and information about loving life abounds. Among the books the kids and I have been reading, the following are favorites for our pro-life preschoolers:
1. Before You Were Born: This lift-the-flap book has become one of Nina's favorite over the past week, and Luke enjoys it, too. We read it several times a day, with Mommy not ever becoming bored of it. The rhyming text makes each reading rhythmical and fun; the way the book counts down from 9 months to go to minutes to go to the actual arrival of the baby, helps me explain to the kids how patient we must be in waiting for our new baby. It also provides some great openers for lessons on math concepts. The small notes about the baby's development inside the womb each month helps the kids envision and appreciate the baby's life from conception through birth.... The book makes for a kid-friendly read and a tender, informative and age-appropriate resource for teaching about new life. And, although I am not crazy about some of the cartoonish illustrations (which are cute -- I simply appreciate picture book art that is more realistic), the kids get a kick out of a lot of it. From the proud Daddy standing on the table shouting with joy through a megaphone about the baby to come on the first pages to the new-born baby, with mic in hand, ready for action in life, towards the end, the kids get quite a giggle from the pictures in the book.
2. Angel in the Waters: I have mentioned this book before, but it is worth a second mention as it is so beautiful and gentle. With age-appropriate, realistic illustrations and a wonderful storyline, this little treasure of a book takes readers on a journey from conception ("In the beginning, I was.") to birth ("There was light." to living and growing as a part of a family and God's great family ("My angel is always there.") Throughout the story, the baby's angel, depicted by gentle sparkles, helps the baby understand the journey, even comforting the baby through moments of fear. I truly cannot say enough about this story. It's one to buy, not simply to borrow.
3. Love Song for a Baby: Our friends the Salasses gifted us this book when our first child was born. Even with my love for picture books, I had never seen it, and instantly wondered, "Why?" It is beautiful! Illustrated with warm, realistic paintings that truly capture the joy of babies, the lyrical text unfolds with the story about "a very special baby...a song about you." It reinforces the idea that "before the first stars blazed in your sky...we loved you" and brings the reader through gently through all the wonderful discoveries of infancy ("ten little tows as sweet and pink as candies") through the realities babyhood ("burps were bells" and "we juggled you") through the affirmation of all life ("how we love you") Not only a wonderful story for answering children’s requests to them about when they were little, but a great gift book for new parents to constantly remind and focus them how precious new life is. This book is one that we will read again and again through the years, someday, when the kids are bigger, tying it more directly to related Bible verses, etc.
4. Baby Born: This is a book we picked up when Luke was little, as it seemed so appropriate for our December baby, telling the story of a new life from "Baby born in winter's sleep" through the seasons of the first year until "Baby takes a step and then like snow falls down again". With gentle verse and charming watercolor illustrations, the book celebrates all babies (especially winter babies) with love and can be enjoyed by young and old readers alike! Since it's sturdy (with pages somewhere between regular and board book) and has fun lift-the-flaps, the book is quite appealing to toddlers. And, with a focus on nature and holidays (from "Baby turns and lifts her head so do seedlings in their beds" to "Baby sits beneath the trees catching all the falling leaves"), the book is ideal for Moms and Dads who, like me, who want to share a genuine love for nature and the rhythms of the year with children. I love this book’s as a way of sharing appreciation not only for human life, but all the wonderful life forms God grants us -- trees, flowers, critters, etc. It is truly a child-friendly, adult-appealing little picture book treasure.
5. I'm a Big Brother : This book by Ronne Randall is less popular than the one of the same title by Joanna Cole. We have read and enjoyed both books, but prefer the one by Ronne Randall. Admittedly, one of the things we like about it is that the big brother in it is named Luke. That aside, we appreciate that the story helps big brothers (and sisters) understand the ins and outs of having a new sibling. From the excitement of birthing day to the impatience of waiting for baby to be big enough to play with to the fun of helping with baby, the book reinforces the realities of having a new baby around, while still celebrating the blessings of the situation. A delightful story with engaging watercolor (I think) illustrations, we enjoyed the book many times after Nina was born and have pulled it out again now that we are expecting another child. Both Nina and Luke love it. And, I do, too, since it shares the story of new life from a young child's perspective so well.
Truly, all of these books (and more!) are priceless for us right now, in that we read them over and over, enjoying their illustrations, learning from their text and growing in greater focus and appreciation of the gift of new life. I am so grateful for the talent and inspiration of the authors and illustrators everywhere that use their gifts to share important messages. I am also thankful for the plethora of quality materials available to share with children as we guide them to the great truth that all life -- from conception forward -- is precious!
I would love to hear about some other favorite resources (books, music, websites, whatever) for encouraging my pro-life preschoolers to continue to wonder at and appreciate life! Please leave a comment.