Kid's Book Highlighting Moms
December 16, 2004 5:02 PM   Subscribe

Children's Books: Earlier this year, my wife bought our toddler this book. Our son (22 months) loves this book right now and is alway getting one of us to read it to him.

Now my wife is feeling a twinge of jealousy over him being a such a daddy's boy. As her birthday is coming up, I'd like to find a similar book geared towards mothers. Any suggestions?
posted by smcniven to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps this would be a good start?
posted by naomi at 5:08 PM on December 16, 2004

Love You Forever is a classic kids book about a mama who loves her baby and a baby who loves his mama:
"I'll love you forever, I'll love you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be"

Almost guaranteed to generate sentimental tears.
posted by bonheur at 5:28 PM on December 16, 2004

If he's a he, won't the Oedipus thing kick in soon enough? Enjoy it while you can?
posted by mookieproof at 5:44 PM on December 16, 2004

Argh, bonheur, my own mother died shortly after I bought that book for my then 3-year old daughter. I couldn't read it after that.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:52 PM on December 16, 2004

Go with bonheur's suggestion. It's an amazing book.
posted by carabiner at 5:53 PM on December 16, 2004

We had that book in our library, and I made the mistake of trying to read it out loud. By the end I was trying to read it while sniffling, and the teacher with the class was in tears.

Beautiful book.
posted by FunkyHelix at 6:12 PM on December 16, 2004

Naomi: I swear when I checked Random House's website that book was listed under the author's listings!! Actually that will be perfect as it's the match for the My Dad book. Hopefully it will be released soon.
posted by smcniven at 6:16 PM on December 16, 2004

In the meantime, you might try Just Me and My Mom. It's a nice little day-out-with-mom kind of story for the kids, but the pictures are *just* contrary enough to the (child's) narration, that it's amusing for mom to read, too. (Also, there's always a little mouse hidden in each illustration, so it can be a book to play with, as well as to read.)
posted by headspace at 6:21 PM on December 16, 2004

We got Love You Forever as a gift, and I swear it is the most depressing thing ever written. And not in a weepy-sweet way--more in a YOUR MOM IS GOING TO ROCK YOU TO SLEEP YOUR WHOLE LIFE BUT WHEN YOU ARE ABOUT FORTY YEARS OLD YOU WILL ROCK HER TO DEATH BECAUSE THAT IS ALL THERE IS way. I guess I just didn't get it or something.

Anyway, I suggest Mama, Do You Love Me?
posted by littlegreenlights at 6:47 PM on December 16, 2004

I also like If You Were My Bunny, which reinvents mama and babe as different animals and includes re-written versions of classic lullabies, and Guess How Much I Love You which features the loving relationship between Little Nut Brown Hare and Big (gender unspecified) Nut Brown Hare.
posted by bonheur at 7:04 PM on December 16, 2004

You can skip Love You Forever. While the theme might be cute, the story itself is a bit over the top. It all seems perfectly normal until the old lady drives across town, gets on a ladder, and breaks into her son's house. No, I'm not making this up.

I read a great scathing review of this book last year, and I completely agree with it. Please don't give those authors more money.

Oh, and the book is about ten feet away from me now. Somebody thought it would be a good gift. My kid thinks the cover is funny, at least.
posted by bh at 7:11 PM on December 16, 2004

I found the review.
posted by bh at 7:15 PM on December 16, 2004 [1 favorite]

The Amazon reviews reflect the same phenomenon: Many, many people love and cherish the book. Some people find it intolerably creepy. Each to their own.
posted by bonheur at 7:19 PM on December 16, 2004

Love you Forever is fantastic.

There's also a book called something like "Things Moms Can't Do" (and a book with the same title about Dads) that's pretty good. I can't seem to find it on Amazon (because I don't remember the exact title), though I've seen it prominently displayed in lots of bookstores.

Love you forever is also available as a free MP3 read by the author on his web site . Many of his other stories are there too and they're pretty much all wonderful, especially when he reads them, though none of the others are meant to be sentimental like Love you Forever .
posted by duck at 7:56 PM on December 16, 2004

I found the book I was talking about... It's called What Mom's Can't Do.

If you search inside the book for "Mom" you can actually read pretty much the whole thing (since it's one sentence per page, the whole sentence shows up on the search results).

There's also What Dad's Can't Do, What Teachers Can't Do, and What Santa Can't Do
posted by duck at 8:06 PM on December 16, 2004

We got Love You Forever as a gift, and I swear it is the most depressing thing ever written. And not in a weepy-sweet way--more in a YOUR MOM IS GOING TO ROCK YOU TO SLEEP YOUR WHOLE LIFE BUT WHEN YOU ARE ABOUT FORTY YEARS OLD YOU WILL ROCK HER TO DEATH BECAUSE THAT IS ALL THERE IS way. I guess I just didn't get it or something.

That was exactly the way I felt about it, too, littlegreenlights.
posted by interrobang at 8:33 PM on December 16, 2004

There's The Giving Tree.

It's not literally about a mother, but the tree is a she. I haven't read it in years, but I remember it reminded me of my mom and what a little prick I've been.

My mom, a preschool teacher, loves it.
posted by SAC at 9:39 PM on December 16, 2004

We like Jez Alborough's Hug. It's really cool. There's three words in the whole thing: Hug (repeated throughout), Bobo, and Mommy. The pictures tell most of the story and you can tell the story as detailed as you want. It's about a little chimp looking for his mommy.

I think I'll pass on Love You Forever. I'm going to have to agree with the "creepy" contingent here--no offense, fans.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 10:40 PM on December 16, 2004



Doesn't anyone like The Velveteen Rabbit?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:57 PM on December 16, 2004

Oh, and RTT above just reminded me:

The Riki Tiki Tavi (by Ruyard Kipling) was one of my absolute favorite books growing up, though it might be a little mature for a 22 month-old child.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:59 PM on December 16, 2004

I'm quite surprised by this question. As the father of a 2-year-old, I can testify that there are A LOT of children's books designed primarily for mothers reading to their children. (Usual plot: 1. Child loses mummy. 2. Child goes looking for mummy. 3. Child finds mummy. 4. The end.) Books involving fathers are MUCH harder to find.

Take a book like Owl Babies, for example. The three baby owls live in a tree with their Owl Mother, one night they wake up and their Owl Mother isn't there, so they get scared, they wait for their Owl Mother to come back, and finally she comes back. "Soft and silent, she swooped through the trees to Sarah and Percy and Bill. 'Mummy!' they cried, as they jumped up and down on their branch" etc etc. OK, lovely book, nice illustrations, but where the fuck is their Owl Father? Not even fucking mentioned.

I could multiply this example over and over again. In Jez Alborough's Hug, the baby chimp is of indeterminate sex, so that the story will appeal to both boys and girls; but the parent is a mother, and the daddy chimp doesn't appear anywhere in the book. In Julia Donaldson's Monkey Puzzle, the daddy monkey does at least make an appearance at the end, but his only words are "come little monkey .. it's time I took you home to Mum", and the final picture shows mummy and baby enjoying a big hug, while daddy looks on from a distance. These are good books and I hate to criticise them, but I find it amazing that so many children's authors still seem to assume that it's Mummy who does all the childcare, Mummy who reads the bedtime story, and Mummy who gets all the hugs and kisses.

(Don't get me started on other forms of stereotyping in children's books -- e.g. the way that grandparents are almost always depicted as elderly figures with grey hair ..)

But to answer your question. Of the mummy-centred books I've seen, I think the best is Helen Cooper's The Baby Who Wouldn't Go To Bed, a charming story, beautifully illustrated, in which baby whizzes off into the night with mummy in hot pursuit. Maybe it's not in print in the US, as I can't find it on, only on; but do try to get hold of it if you can.
posted by verstegan at 3:16 AM on December 17, 2004

verstegan: I should have been more explicit about what I was looking for. "My Dad" isn't really a story per say, but a series of statements about Dad (My dad is as smart as an owl etc...). I was hoping to find something very similar but with Mom as the focus. Naomi's suggestion is perfect (once the book is released) as it's the match to "My Dad".

My wife is the children's book expert in our house (primary school teacher), and we have stacks of books for our son as well as for her students. I only asked the question because we were out looking for books the other day and my wife was trying to find one for Moms but was not successful (although that could be more do to the store's selection than anything).
posted by smcniven at 5:48 AM on December 17, 2004

smcniven: sorry, I didn't mean to rant at you. I was just intrigued by your question, because it is almost the same as a question I was going to post on AskMeFi a few months ago, only in reverse. As a stay-at-home dad, I have been searching for good picture-books about fathers and children, and haven't been able to find many. Thanks for recommending My Dad: I saw it in a bookshop earlier this year, but didn't buy it because I felt that concepts like "smart as an owl" were probably above my daughter's comprehension at that stage; however, she's come on a lot since then, and it might be just the thing for her.

At 30 months, my daughter is just beginning to take an interest in the 'back-story' of the books she reads: a few months ago she would have accepted the plot of Owl Babies without comment, but now she asks "where's the daddy owl?" and I have to make up a story for her ("oh, I expect he's gone out to look for food in another part of the forest"). So family relationships in children's books are very much on my mind at the moment.
posted by verstegan at 6:54 AM on December 17, 2004

I second the recommendation of "Mama, Do you Love me?" My 4yrold daughter loves it. She likes "The Giving Tree" too. I would also recommend "Stellaluna," the story of a baby bat who loses its mother and eventually finds her, although that follows what others said about kids losing their mothers. And we've absolutely read these two books to death.
posted by cass at 6:55 AM on December 17, 2004

The cat in Love You Forever looks lke a ferret, so I always had a hard time taking it too seriously. But The Boy loved it as a toddler.

Mama, Do You Love Me is beautifully illustrated and a comforting story.

I find The Giving Tree really depressing - it's about a tree that just keeps giving to a greedy boy until it's just a stump. Not an entirely inaccurate portrayal of motherhood, but still.

I recommend Runaway Bunny which The Boy found reassuring as a toddler.

Reassure your wife that your son will fall in love with her. There's probably something about the book that fits some odd niche in his psyche.
posted by Mom at 7:05 AM on December 17, 2004

Mom: Runaway Bunny and Goodnite Moon are staples of our son's "read-to-me" lineup.
posted by smcniven at 7:27 AM on December 17, 2004

I swear it is the most depressing thing ever written. And not in a weepy-sweet way--more in a YOUR MOM IS GOING TO ROCK YOU TO SLEEP YOUR WHOLE LIFE BUT WHEN YOU ARE ABOUT FORTY YEARS OLD YOU WILL ROCK HER TO DEATH BECAUSE THAT IS ALL THERE IS way. I guess I just didn't get it or something.

but... well, you know. That is all there is. And it's enough.

Never read the book, and the illustrations look kind of hackneyed, and the metaphor sounds like it's taken too far, plus the little twist at the end that bh's review points out seems poorly conceived, but I wouldn't ditch a book because it reveals age and death. And I still love the giving tree (but part of that is it's so well illustrated).
posted by mdn at 9:35 AM on December 17, 2004

Are You My Mother? is wonderful, and mom-centered, and really fun as the child gets old enough to help you read it aloud:

"But the big thing just said SNORT"
posted by SashaPT at 11:19 AM on December 17, 2004

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