The latest Horn Book Magazine asks a question that we children's booksellers get all the time: "What Makes a Good Baby Shower Book?" The article makes great suggestions, some of which I'd already been handselling to baby shower guests (Sandra Boynton owes my younger sister a thank-you for loving Moo, Baa, La La La as a newborn and inspiring me to recommend it constantly), and some of which I'm happy to add to my baby shower repertoire (Mother Goose, I'll be more diligent now in pointing customers to your collections in the poetry section).
A beginning-of-life gift requires a delicate balance. For an occasion this important, you want something monumental, but not so monumental that everyone else will have the same idea. I rarely point out Goodnight Moon or The Very Hungry Caterpillar unless asked, though I have plenty to say in praise of each; both were among our top 25 kids' sellers of 2010, so I have little fear that the guestlets of honor at any of these showers will be deprived of them. Instead, I shoot for books that are slightly less prominent but not necessarily deservedly so.
Example? "More More More," Said the Baby, by Vera B. Williams. It's a Caldecott honor book, but old enough to have fallen off the radar a bit. Its illustrations are beautiful, and the people in them are of more than one race without making the book about race. The book provides plenty of opportunity for parent-child silliness, and as the child gets older, I suspect readings will get more and more interactive. But basically, "More More More" is about families full of love.
And what's more monumental than that?