One of the most exciting things about being a parent is witnessing your child’s firsts. There are the funny firsts (his disgusted face with that first taste of oatmeal), the exciting firsts (watching him take those first wobbly steps) and the momentous firsts that make you well up with tears of joy (when he first sleeps through the night). But some of my favorite firsts with my children are of a literary nature.

My son, Gabriel, actually began his literary journey before he was born. My baby shower was book themed, with generous friends and family giving us books in lieu of cards. I had baby’s first library before I had baby!

Once Gabriel was born, my husband, Andy, and I began reading to him right away. A book (or two!) was part of our bedtime routine. Even though he was too little to understand the story, Gabriel got so much out of our time reading together. There was the comfort of the sound of our voices and the closeness as I cuddled him on my lap.

As he got older, he began to reach for the book and look at the pictures. He would occasionally try to eat the book, but that was to be expected.

On December 5, 2011 (yes, I remember the date!), when he was only four and a half months old, Gabriel first turned the pages of the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. It was so exciting for me to see him taking more of an active role in our reading! Our version was a slide-and-find book, and he loved sliding the cardboard to see a picture of what Brown Bear and the other animals saw.

Animal Kisses by Barney Saltzberg was another favorite book to read when Gabriel was a baby. The book begins by asking, “What kind of kisses do you like?” It then goes on to offer up fuzzy dog kisses, squishy fish kisses and so on. When he was one, Gabriel would kiss every page to decide which kisses he liked best.

In 2014 my daughter, Amara, was born. She joined her big brother, her daddy and I in our reading adventures. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, Amara was turning pages, Gabriel was recognizing words and they were both “reading” books that they had memorized, like Leslie Patricelli’s No No Yes Yes and Yummy Yucky.

When Gabriel turned five in July of 2016, this proud mama took at least half a dozen pictures of him getting his first library card. Even though he is continuing to learn how read on his own, reading together is something we all still enjoy. Gabriel and I love reading Mo Willems’s Elephant and Piggie series, while Amara loves princess books and Sandra Boynton’s stories. The two of them haven even taken to reading together without me! As they get older, I look forward to continuing our reading journey by sharing more of my favorite books with them.

Did You Know?

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, written by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle, was first published in 1967 . . . making 2017 the year of its 50th anniversary!