Board Books + Classic Literature = BabyLit

Alice in Wonderland for babies

It’s never too early to introduce your baby to great literature. If that great lit comes in the form of tough board books for babies, even better. bynature.ca carries the BabyLit series of board books because they entertain us as adults as well as entertaining our babies.

We read to babies because they learn language as we speak, because we want to create the habit of reading in our children. Before babies even come close to understanding stories, we read them stories. Once they start to recognize numbers, colors, animals, and objects around them, we read books about the familiar.

Trouble comes when a favorite book, a book that absolutely must be read nightly, bores us to tears. We might lose it or distract at bedtime. Clever children will find their favorite books, though. You can escape the repeat performance.

Before you find yourself reading a book about a self-sacrificing tree or an inevitably caged monkey for the hundredth time, start with books that will amuse you. I like the BabyLit books because they make me laugh. Reading these books gives parent and child a multi-layered experience.

You will find the structures of the books familiar: counting books, object books, color books, and weather books.

Anna Karenina for babies

Anna Karenina, for example, has one item of cloth per page then encourages the reader to find another. It’s an easy hidden object book, or, as the book itself claims, “a fashion primer.”

“HAT.
“Can you also find the heart?”

Price & Prejudice for babies

Pride & Prejudice is a counting book with “1 English village, 2 rich gentlemen, 3 houses, 4 marriage proposals,” and so on. Jane Eyre and Dracula are also counting books. Alice in Wonderland is a color primer, Wuthering Heights is a weather primer, and The Jungle Book is an animal primer.

Jabberwocky for babies

Jabberwocky will be fun for any child who loves to play with language.

“Twas Brillig, and the slithy toves. . . .”

All of the books have bold, simple artwork that will hold a toddler’s interest.

Moby Dick for babies

BabyLit is a fun series. Though it is made for toddlers, you will find yourself calling friends and family members to read these books to adults. The books are published by a friend of mine, who sent me the whole series. I’ve read every one aloud to my husband and to friends. The juxtaposition of baby and lit delights them. They laugh. It’s a secret between adults, when the children just have fun listening and pointing.

Come by the store in Orillia and choose a few of your favorites for a baby—or for an adult.

Wuthering Heights for babies

Snack-sized Reading to Improve Nutrition

Food Rules Illustrated Michael Pollan

 

You want to eat better and ensure that your children are healthy, but how do you figure out which information about food is reliable? One book summarizes all of the basic food rules you need to know.

Having children often brings on one of those shocking moments of realization that what you eat and what your children eat really matters. For a lot of us, babies are the trigger to clean up our eating habits. Unfortunately, this is also the time in your life when you have the least time to spend and when you are most tired. Fortunately, if you do manage to squeeze out some time to improve your family’s nutrition, you will improve how you feel overall.

Simple Rules for Eating

Start with simple rules and take simple steps.

“If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t”
~Michael Pollan

Did you notice when we posted the quotation above on Facebook last month? This is rule #19 from his book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual (published 2010).

Michael Pollan is a science journalist who has written several books on food. You might have heard of The Omnivore’s Dilemma or In Defense of Food. His earlier books are more complex, and his more recent books are simpler. That makes sense to me. He isn’t engaging in an academic exercise. He genuinely wants to help people understand food and make better choices. People need the information delivered simply not because they can’t understand the complex but because, like most of us, they don’t have the time and energy to dive deeply into the subject.

Michael Pollan got the idea for food rules when a doctor told him, “What I would love is a pamphlet I could hand to my patients with some rules for eating wisely.” So, the next book summarized those rules in a way that anyone can understand

To gain some clarity about the general rules you should follow to improve your food choices, start with Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: Illustrated Edition. I suggest the illustrated edition because I assume you will want to share what you learn with your children, as I did. Also, this edition adds 19 more rules to the 64 in the original.

Find an indie bookstore selling Food Rules.

It will take you about a minute and a half to read each rule. You could read it in one sitting, but you might find it easier to integrate the lessons if you read one every morning and think about it as you go about your busy day. Give yourself permission to go slowly if you need to.

If you get into the illustrated edition and want to share more with your children, you will find Michael Pollan reading the rules and the artist talking about her illustrations on Michael Pollan’s website.

Over the years, I have written about my children, the food activists, and how we have integrated learning about food into our homeschool curriculum. We read together Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Young Readers Edition, and we watched quite a few food documentaries (which I list for you). With every step we take, we find more to learn. That’s OK! The journey isn’t about arriving but about improvising your beautiful life along the way.

Take your own eco baby steps. You don’t have to (and you CAN’T) do everything at once. Just start where you feel the strongest itch, and make your own changes.

How I Learned to Cook Whole Foods

Undiet Book

It’s my favourite time of year! I love these months filled warm weather, swimming, biking, soaking up the sunshine, farmers markets, backyard vegetable gardens, camping, cottaging, and more. With the energy of the summer and the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables galore, I wanted to share with you something I’ve been very excited about.

Confession time – I did NOT know how to cook whole, real foods before taking a handful of live and in person cooking classes from Meghan Telpner, a Toronto-based nutritionist, a few years ago. Brought up on Chef Boyardee and Kraft Dinner, my family had a challenging few years when we learned of our children’s allergies from diary, gluten, soy, eggs, corn and more. We know many families are struggling with similar stories, and Meghan came along right when I needed her most. If you’re unable to join her in the kitchen for a live class, her online courses and now her recently released book, are the next best thing!

In her new book UnDiet, Meghan proves it’s possible to look and feel your absolute best while eating the most delicious food, and avoiding the trap of diet deprivation and calorie counting. Infused with her signature humor, enthusiasm, and accessibility, Meghan inspires readers to question paradigms and take ownership of their health, one small change at a time. Best of all, these are recommendations that fit your life. Nothing in here is too over the top. These are easy changes for any family to incorporate into their already hectic and busy lifestyles.

I strongly encourage you to add UnDiet: Eat Your Way to Vibrant Health to your summer reading list. You won’t regret it! As an added treat - order your copy of UnDiet from bynature.ca before the end of July and we’ll include a FREE Anointment Natural lip balm with your purchase! This is our favourtie handmade lip balm, and we’ve just received a new shipment of samples to share. Happy Summer!


Tamara Champion, Founder
Parenting By Nature

Wool with Kids: Teaching through Story

Child with black sheep finger puppet

When you want to teach a young child big ideas about the world, little stories are often the most effective way. Pelle’s New Suit tells how a growing boy uses the wool of his lamb for a new suit.

Last week, in my post about basic weaving with children, I mentioned the book Pelle’s New Suit. I love this book so much for children that I want to come back to it and tell you more. We’ve been celebrating lambing season this month with wool crafts for children: felted wool ball, spool knitting, and basic weaving. I want to make that connection between the life of a sheep and the natural materials we use in our lives. Reading the story of Pelle’s New Suit to my children was one of the ways I helped them understand where wool comes from and why we value sheep so much.

Before I had children, I recall a friend telling me a story about his daughter’s dawning realization of her connections with the world around her. Like many very young children, she had story books that told about animals and she had visited animals. One of her favorite animals was the chicken. One night, when she asked what they were eating for dinner, her father said, “Chicken.” “Oh,” she said, “’Chicken’ sounds just like ‘chicken!’” As he told me, I waited for the lesson when he told her the rest of the story. He didn’t. “You didn’t tell her at all?” I asked. No, he didn’t. He didn’t want to upset her. Maybe not now, but imagine her upset when she realized the truth.

I considered this a lesson is parenting. I decided that I would always make an effort to help my children understand the connections among things—like fluffy chickens in a petting zoo and dinner on a plate. The right time to talk about connections is when the child brings it up. In my family, we talk about the origins of different foods, fibers, and the other stuff around us. I have always wanted my children to have, in their own developmentally appropriate way, the tools to make their own decisions about their actions.

When I first read Pelle’s New Suit, when my first child was not quite one year old, I knew this would be one of the books that would help me make those connections for her. Both of my children know the story well. We read it often. Even now, as they are older, they love this book. When I asked my 12-year old where the book was so I could reread it for today, he pulled it off the shelf next to his bed.


Pelle’s Suit Grows Shorter

Pelle takes care of his lamb all by himself. His lamb’s hair grows longer as his own suit grows shorter. Step by step Pelle makes his new suit happen, through sheering to carding to spinning to dying to weaving to tailoring. Pelle trades his help for that of the adults who have the skills to create his suit. In the end, we see the bigger boy in the bigger suit with his bigger lamb.

Simply and clearly the process of creating clothing unfolds. This is such a sweet story of an independent child as part of his community.

Pelle’s New Suit is 101 years old. It was originally published in Sweden in 1912 by Elsa Beskow. For over 50 years she created beautifully gentle illustrations of adventurous and strong children. Her books are still quite popular in Waldorf education, and they are still in print in many languages. I’m not the only parent for whom these stories resonate.


Little Black Sheep Puppet

With a family favorite story, it’s fun to have props. When my children were very young, we often gathered up particular toys to listen to or act out stories. The moose joined us for Mooses Come Walking and the mouse joined us for Sugar Mouse Cake.

At bynature.ca we carry puppets of all sizes because children use characters like these to tell the stories that help them understand their world as their world grows. In case you want to invite Pelle and his lamb into your library, you might be interested in the little black sheep puppet as well.

Happy storytelling.

Books That Support You in Your Pregnancy

Sacred Pregnancy book

Let’s start with the assumption that pregnancy is amazing. If you are pregnant right now and you haven’t taken time yet today to remember that, just pause. Close your eyes and breathe. Feel your belly and your baby and remind yourself how amazing pregnancy is.

As told to me by a midwife I knew well during my pregnancy, Jeannine Parvati Baker, “Most women stop giving birth just when they get good at it.”

Love every minute you can, and surround yourself with those who will remind you live in the moment because this phase of your life passes very quickly.

You don’t need yet another mainstream voice telling you that pregnancy is anything but amazing. The fact that your body is building a human being outweighs the petty discomforts of pregnancy—most of the time. Yes, take care of yourself. Better yet, get your partner to take care of you. You deserve all of the pampering you can get right now. So, support your belly, moisturize your skin as it stretches, and grab a cup of nutritious tea because I want you to sit down with those comforting voices that will remind you to enjoy your pregnancy.


These are a few books you can count on to trust and empower you as a pregnant woman.


Sacred Pregnancy

Annie Daulter

Sacred Pregnancy book by Anni Daulter

Sacred Pregnancy by Anni Daulter offers mothers-to-be the kind of spiritual, emotional guidebook they have hoped for in their special journey of pregnancy. With generous journaling space, key practical advice, inspiring photography and thoughtful contributions from leaders in midwifery and childbirth such as Ina May Gaskin and Anna Getty, this book touches on every personal milestone of the full gestation period of a pregnancy.

Each week the mother-to-be is given specific, helpful information on her baby, her body, and her spirit, and is asked to reflect on these via the topic of the week, which touches on such issues as sexuality, fears about labour, becoming a mother, courage, rite of passage, adornment, body image, meditation, and sisterhood, to name a few. Sacred Pregnancy is not only a grounding companion through the pregnancy and childbirth process, but can be a precious and beautiful keepsake for a mother’s unique birth story, a gift to share down the road. Sacred Pregnancy includes a large resource section on various birthing options and support for pregnancy women.

Review by Ricki Lake, actress, and Abby Epstein, filmmaker, The Business of Being Born: “Pregnancy is such an amazing time in a woman’s life and should be honoured and valued. Sacred Pregnancy helps empower women and encourages them to personall reflect on their internal process before having children. This is a beautiful gift to all pregnant women!”

Review by Mayim Bialik, actress and author of Beyond the Sling:
“I wish I had read Sacred Pregnancy when I was pregnant instead of the dozen books I had to piece together to try to make sense of it all. Anni Daulter has created what should be the new standard for today’s mom: birth journals, labour workbooks, pregnancy memoirs, and holistic wisdom. It is gentle and enlightening, and lays the foundation for what we know helps women have the labour and birth they want and deserve: support, self-knowledge, and empowerment.”


The Birth Book by Dr. Sears

William Sears, M.D., and Martha Sears, R.N.

The Birth Book by Dr Sears

The Birth Book by Dr. Sears is a comprehensive, reassuring, and authoritative guide to childbirth. It is rich in information as well as inspiration that enables you to plan and create the birth you want.

Since women enjoy more birthing options today than ever before, the path toward a safe and satisfying birth can be fraught with important decisions. Planning, understanding the resources available to you, as well as developing your own birthing philosophy can make all the difference. This book explores the abundant choices couples face when anticipating the birth of their child.

Review from NOM, a bynature.ca customer:
“I was scared of birth, so I wanted a book that was not going to terrify me with horror stories (like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”). This book was amazing. I learned a lot of essential things, and the language used was positive and reassuring. The authors definitely have the mentality that birth is an amazing experience that every woman CAN do WITHOUT interventions. I loved that.”


Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Ina May Gaskin

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

Drawing upon her thirty-plus years of experience, Ina May Gaskin, the nation’s leading midwife, shares the benefits and joys of natural childbirth by showing women how to trust in the ancient wisdom of their bodies for a healthy and fulfilling birthing experience. Based on the female-centered Midwifery Model of Care, Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth gives expectant mothers comprehensive information on everything from the all-important mind-body connection to how to give birth without technological intervention.

Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth takes the fear out of childbirth by restoring women’s faith in their own natural power to give birth with more ease, less pain, and less medical intervention.

We know we can’t compete with megabookstores at bynature.ca, and we don’t try. What we do is choose carefully the few books that we offer, so you know that our books will support you in your desire to parent naturally.