One of my favorite baby gifts to give is Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. Poetry for a baby, you ask? Let me explain.
If you’ve been reading DoSayGive you know that I love giving books. And that goes for baby gifts as well. I especially enjoy giving books to the second, third, and fourth child in a family when the mother isn’t registered (and the family has all the baby gear they need!).
While A Child’s Garden of Verses is not necessarily a “baby” book, it is the perfect addition to any nursery with it’s whimsical illustrations and beautiful poems. But it’s not just a book to be displayed prettily on a bookshelf. No, this collection of poems is something that can be read to the child from the time they are quite young until they are in grade school and can read it themselves.
Poetry is something we don’t often consider when selecting what to read to children, but it is so important not to deprive our children of this wonderful art form. Any good teacher will tell you that reading poetry and nursery rhymes to children (babies, included!) is good for their language and reading development. It’s obvious why: reading poetry just sounds different than reading a regular book. And all thsse unique sounds, rhymes, and cadences are all so beneficial for developing brains.
Even more, poetry is a way of experiencing something rather than just reading a detailed description of it. Take, for example, Lewis’ “The Swing.” No better words have been penned to describe the exhilaration every child feels when on a swing:
To this day I cannot get near a swing without this precious poem running through my head. Do you know why? Because my mother read it to me often as a child! What a precious gift to give another mother and baby: an opportunity to form sweet memories and words that will stay with them a lifetime.
If you haven’t read Stevenson in a while, you will be amazed at how beautifully and accurately he was able to depict the innocence and adventure of childhood. The Scottish author who also wrote Treasure Island put that same spirit of adventure in this collection of childhood poems, which is why it’s great to read to boys, too.
I know, I know, the illustrations seem feminine but the stories are not. I promise. What boy can’t relate to pretending their bed is a pirate ship and their sheets billowing waves? Or making a boat and setting it sail downstream? There are also poems about soldiers and sea captains and great voyages to foreign lands – all things boys love to make-believe about. A Child’s Garden of Verses puts beautiful words to what’s already going on in the imaginative minds of children everywhere!
There are two copies of Stevenson’s collection of childhood poems that are often sold on Amazon and the big bookstores. If you are giving it to a boy, I would recommend the one on the right (below) that’s illustrated by Tasha Tudor just because the illustrations seems to have more boys in them (although I like both!):
Something else to consider is to find a vintage copy of the book. It was originally published in 1885 and there have been so many different illustrations since then. If you are into that kind of thing (as I am!) here is a link to a blog post about some of the original illustrations of the book so you can know what to look for when searching Amazon’s used book affiliates.
As with any books, a sweet handwritten note inside the front cover makes a gift all the personal and sweet. I still have the original copy my grandmother gave me as a child and treasure it to this day.
With beautiful wrapping, it makes a great (and affordable) baby gift!
And if you want to do something a little more than a book, you can also always add a sweet little stuffed animal that the child can play with while being read to. I love this little rag bunny because it just exudes a classic childhood.
If you have children or grandchildren, consider getting a copy for your own home as well. A little confession: on nights when I am too tired to read to my children, I will pull this book out and read a poem or two. My children adore the poems and I get credit for reading – it’s a win/win! It’s also a delightful way to send your children off to sleep, with those beautiful scenes dancing through their heads.
What do you think of this book for a baby gift? Would love to know!
Brown Craft Paper: Home Depot
Blue and Peach Ribbon: Jo Ann Fabric
Couduroy Pants: Gap Kids
Swing Top: Gap Kids
Scarf: Ann Taylor Loft
Bunny: The maker is a company called Little London by Albetta. I got the one pictured at Layette in Dallas but you can also get one at Buy Buy Baby.