9 Favorite Children’s Books

Whether you have a little one (or twelve) of your own and are wondering what books you haven’t discovered yet, are expecting your first child and wondering what on Earth you’ll do to entertain them, or have friends/family with little ones you might want to get a gift for at some point, this list is for YOU!

Andy has always loved “reading” (yes, we realize our #BabyGenius cannot actually read yet). The Hubs and I genuinely love reading to her. Children’s stories are so fun – I love the rhyming and excuse to get really animated while reading (#Nerd). We started reading to her in the beginning because, honestly, what else are you going to do with a newborn? Plus, we knew how beneficial talking to her is for her language development and it’s kind of hard to come up with your own stories when the listener can’t respond yet…so books are great! 😉

Before Andy was born, my sister (who is not only a Reading Coach, but also a true love of books!) stocked our nursery with more books than we ever thought we’d read (wrong…we’ve read almost all of them. Most of them over & over). If you don’t have a book-loving sister willing to dump stacks of baby reading material on you, check out your local Facebook sales groups (Moms love to hang out in these places & they sell some pretty amazing “used” things) or browse your local thrift stores (great place to find classics!).

The books below are in no particular order – we love them all equally!

 1. Cloudette

This book is about a cloud that’s smaller than all the others (as a short gal raising a fellow tiny gal, I truly appreciated this perspective!). While she acknowledges the advantages of being small, she struggles with the limitations. In the end, she shows that with hard work she was able to make the impact on the world she wanted to.

Perfect for: the vertically challenged tots on your list 😉

Buy Cloudette here.

2. Bear Says Thanks

Bear wants to throw a feast but his cupboards are empty. One-by-one his friends show up with something to contribute to the gathering. I like this book because it shows how special time together with loved ones can be (even if you have nothing to contribute but stories – like Bear).

The first time we read this book together, it was before we were heading to gather with family for a potluck lunch. It was very appropriate!

Perfect for: Because of the theme of gratefulness and the gathering of friends (with food!), it would be a great book to read at Thanksgiving. It could also be a good book to read when learning about manners (Bear thanks each of his friends as they bring food for the gathering).

Buy Bear Says Thanks here.

 3. Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

This is a great story about embracing what makes you unique. Molly Lou encounters a bully at her new school. Because of the confidence her grandmother has instilled in her, she knows how to handle the bully and ultimately (no surprise 🙂 ) they become friends.

Perfect for: This would be a great story for a child who is moving and/or starting a new school where they will be making new friends. Also a great story for children dealing with bullying.

Buy Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon here.

 4. Olivia and the Fairy Princesses

A few books from the Olivia series arrived on our doorstep unexpectedly one day. Andy’s Aunt Olivia had sent them to her!

While I try to be cautious about Princess-y books (and clothes and nicknames…), this story is a good one! Olivia is fed up with everyone wanting to be Princesses – honestly, I really like the way her fierce personality shines through as she rants about this.

#SpoilerAlert: I do wish that in the end she decided to be something other than a Queen (sorry for giving away the ending!). Nonetheless, this is still great inspiration for being unafraid of standing out.

Perfect for: Encouraging little ones to follow their heart – there are no wrong choices on the path to discovering who they are. While the title and cover (and most of the images) are very gendered, I think this is still a good story for both girls and boys. It’s also a great book for newborns because a lot of the interior images feature red, black and white – good contrast for little ones who can’t yet see all colors.

Buy Olivia and the Fairy Princesses here.

 5. Lily the Unicorn

The author of this story also illustrated the book which I found really impressive (having the imagination to create a meaningful story + the ability to illustrate such beautiful pictures is quite an impressive pair of skills!).

The story is [obviously] about Lily the Unicorn. She loves making new friends, but her newest friend doesn’t feel quite the same way. She works hard to find ways they can connect and shows him all the fun possibilities that await him.

Perfect for: While the cover print may make you think this is a “girly” book, I assure you: it’s one for all children! The high contrast of the drawn images inside (notice the thick black lines around the images and letters on the cover) are great for newborns. This is a great book for a wide range of ages – the pages contain short sentences/few words, but are scattered with accompanying images with smaller text…a great option to incorporate more discussion/lengthen reading time as the child gets older. The story is perfect for children who are entering a phase where they will be making news friends (i.e. starting daycare or school).

Buy Lily the Unicorn here.

6. LMNO Peas

This is the Hub’s favorite book! He reads it to Andy every morning and then sings the ABC’s to her (he is literally the best, right?!). I was hesitant to read it at first because some of the ABC books are quite boring, but this one is really creative! I love how the peas are all sorts of things (as the Hubs pointed out when he was trying to convince me to read it, there’s a quilter and a weaver!).

Perfect for: Not only learning the ABCs, but also learning about all of the cool occupations and hobbies that exist!

Buy LMNO Peas here.

7. She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World

No surprise that this book is an absolute favorite. It was one of the first books I read to Andy. The nonfiction stories within the book are truly inspiring.

There’s another version of the book, She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History – it’s on our wish list!

Perfect for: Any kid! But because of the strong message of female empowerment: especially girls.

Buy She Persisted here.

8. Lily Wool

I found this book when the Hubs and I took a day trip to Greenville a few weeks before Andy was born and stopped into M.Judson Booksellers.

I love the story of Lily Wool! She is an endlessly creative sheep who doesn’t fit in. She learns to use her creativity to contribute to her herd in a positive way and becomes a creative entrepreneur!

Perfect for: Inspiring young ones to follow their passions and find ways to use their creativity for good. Also a great book for those with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Buy Lily Wool here.

 9. Beautiful

This book is so cleverly illustrated! My sister got it for Andy. I love that the statements in the book are sayings that we hear about girls all the time, but the illustrations show a spin on the saying by flipping it to show basically the opposite of the stereotype. It’s really a neat book!

Perfect for: Any and every girl! The content paired with the illustrations is really powerful, but not in a hard-to-understand kind of way. It’d be a great gift to a girl in your life to show her that beauty is defined in so many ways.

Buy Beautiful here.

*Disclaimer: For convenience, I’ve included links to the books so you can buy them online, but I highly encourage you to try to find used copies OR (better yet!) visit your local library and rent them! #SaveThePlanetOneUsedBookAtATime. Also, I don’t understand affiliate links and I’m certainly not popular enough to be bribed into a good review so you can rest-assured the statements in this post are totally unbiased.

PS: I’ve posted about several of these books on Instagram. If I did, I’ve linked the picture to the original post so you can read more there and see what others shared in the comments. Just click on the pictures and they’ll take you there!

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Andy’s Birth Story

I hesitated to share this story until I told the Hubs and he said “It’s as much your story as it is hers” (he’s so great).

Plus:

  1. it’s Cesarean Awareness Month.
  2. I always love reading other people’s birth stories {so I guess sharing mine only seems fair 😉 }.
  3. Andy is now 3 months old {where has the time gone?!}.

So…without further adieu, here’s Andy’s birth story!

Andy Magnolia, 9 days old.

When I went in for my 39-week appointment my doctor said “I can’t believe you haven’t had this baby yet!” We couldn’t either! At my appointment the week prior I was dilating 2-almost-3 centimeters. We spent the weekend walking our usual long route around town in hopes it would help encourage Andy to make her way into the world. No such luck.

A few days earlier (Tuesday night) I sat straight up in bed not long after getting settled for the night. Suddenly I was so uncomfortable! I couldn’t decide if it was a contraction because it didn’t feel quite right and it lasted way longer than a contraction was supposed to. I couldn’t speak. My husband popped up and asked if I was okay and I mumbled something, trying to tell him to go back to sleep.

I’m not sure how much time passed but I woke up a few hours later realizing I had fallen asleep (so obviously…not a contraction!). I felt a ton better though! I went on with life-as-usual (the pregnant version 😉 ).

At my appointment that Thursday morning my doctor asked if we’d like to have my membranes stripped to help speed up labor. “Sure!”

I noticed that during this exam she didn’t seem quite as excited as last time (when she announced I was starting to dilate), but the anticipation of Andy’s birth nearing kept my mind from giving her reaction (or lack of) too much thought.

After the exam she asked if we were curious as to how much Andy weighed. “Yeah, I guess!” My husband was a big baby (10 pounds) and I was fairly big for being a month early (8 pounds) so we were curious, but we also knew how inaccurate the ultrasound weight predictions could be. Nonetheless, we went for an ultrasound.

Almost immediately the technician said “Yep, she’s breech.”

That was the last thing I had expected to hear. Andy had been head-down and ready for delivery for the duration of pregnancy.

I had already drafted my birth plan (and redrafted, edited, obsessed over…) and reviewed it with my doctor. I hadn’t given a C-section much thought (though I did read a few articles just in case, but surely that wouldn’t be me…right? Wrong).

I knew that with breech babies there were options for attempting to flip the baby. Yet, in that moment, I knew those choices weren’t going to be part of my path. I had attended the same yoga class I was part of for the 6 years prior (including that very morning!). My teacher revamped our class when I announced I was pregnant and began working in poses to make our class more prenatal-friendly. We had done all the cat-cow poses and squats you could imagine to try to prepare my body for delivery. If Andy were going to be head-down for birth, she would’ve stayed there. But she didn’t. And I just knew attempting a flip wasn’t going to be a good idea.

Once we left the ultrasound, my doctor met with us again. She said she recommended the ultrasound because she knew something had changed. She was able to feel Andy’s head the week before and this week she couldn’t. She said Andy likely flipped sometime that week (I’m pretty sure that’s what I felt that Tuesday). She explained that (from the ultrasound) Andy’s head was a little large which typically leads to an unsuccessful attempt to flip so she recommended that we not try. I didn’t hesitate to agree with her.

Because I was already dilating and she had stripped my membranes in hopes to bring on labor, she gave us the option to schedule a c-section for the next day (Friday) or wait over the weekend. If we waited, we ran the risk of going into labor naturally. I was already a ball of nerves since my “plan” had gone off-script at this point. We opted to schedule the c-section for the next morning.

The doctor on-call for the next morning who would perform the surgery met with us before we left the office. She gave a quick run-down of the process so we would know what to expect. I was so overwhelmed, but so grateful for the chance to know what’s going on.

We left the appointment and the Hubs and I met back downtown for breakfast at one of our favorite spots. Afterward we headed back to work (because literally all our preparation was done so going home meant we’d be sitting, waiting, and becoming more anxious). It was nice to be able to set up everything at my office now that I knew when I would be going out for maternity leave.

When I got home, I was able to go back through my hospital bag and get the car packed. I reminded myself that this was a luxury that not many get to have. I was able to take my time and I even got to call and text family and friends about what was going on.

I think I got a total of 2 hours of sleep that night! I was so nervous. I had never had major surgery before and didn’t know what to expect. I was particularly worried about recovery. I was eager to return to walking and yoga and was scared about how long I may be immobile. I tried to remind myself that I had taken care of my body in preparation for bringing this child into our world in whatever way that may be. I was not the first woman to go through this nor would I be the last. I would be fine.

We arrived at the hospital early the next morning. Our surgery was delayed because of an emergency c-section. While I was nervous and the time passing just made me more nervous, I was so grateful that I was not in an emergency situation. How incredibly lucky was I that my doctor’s intuition saved me from being rushed to the Operating Room after labor had begun?!

Finally it was “our turn” and I was wheeled into the OR. It was cold and sterile. I was shaking like a leaf from fear. They got me a warm blanket which helped a little.

I met the staff who would be helping bring Andy into the world. My doctor stood in front of me while I waited for the anesthesiologist to administer the spinal. She talked to me about the hospital construction that was underway – it was nice to have her guide a conversation so I didn’t have to think much (and it distracted me at least a little 🙂 ).

I counted my breath the way I’d learned in a Yoga for Anxiety class a few years earlier in an attempt to keep my anxiety from getting worse.

When the anesthesiologist got ready, my doctor wrapped me in the warmest bear-hug and held me there until it was over. Placement was quick and easy and suddenly I couldn’t feel a thing from just below my bra line. My anxiety started to fade.

My husband appeared by my head and I felt so grateful to have him there.

As they were operating, the team was discussing another woman who was having contractions against her previous c-section scar. They needed to get her in the OR immediately after me. I would’ve gladly let her go first…Again I thought about how grateful I was that I was not in that situation. I was safe and so was my baby.

As Andy emerged, I heard the doctor say, “Oh look, her umbilical cord was around her neck” so nonchalant. I’m sure she’s used to seeing that, but I will never forget hearing her say that and AGAIN thinking how grateful I am for the path we took.

Andy Magnolia, 2 days old.

The Nurse Anesthetist who was standing by my head was amazing. She made sure my hair was comfortably tucked under the surgical cap and talked me through everything that was going on with the operation which was comforting. She was so attentive to my needs. When they handed Andy over to us, she asked if we wanted a picture. Neither Jeremy nor I are great at stopping to capture moments like this on camera so we hadn’t given it much thought. However, we both felt the weight of this moment and immediately said “yes!” She captured photos we will treasure forever. I am so incredibly grateful for her offer. It may have been a simple offer during another average day-on-the-job for her, but it was the moment that changed our lives forever. To have that captured is so special.

Honestly, the procedure itself was not as bad as I had feared. For weeks I described it as a “pleasant” experience when people would ask (I would still use that term!).

The same is true for recovery. It was no walk in the park, but it was not how I feared it would be. Sitting up from bed in the days after Andy was born was difficult. My doctor ordered a wrap for my stomach that really helped a lot. I was able to walk around the hospital halls the day after surgery. In the weeks following, I started taking Andy for daily walks in our neighborhood (which we still do – it has become part of her evening routine. We usually meet our neighbor whose daughter is a month younger than Andy. It’s so nice to share this experience with them – we both enjoy having a friend who can relate 🙂 ). Seven weeks later I returned to my favorite yoga class.

Andy Magnolia, 5 weeks old. On a blanket knit for her by a lady in my yoga class 🙂

So here we are 14 weeks later and I’m starting feel like my old self. It took some time (I’ll save that for another post), but I am enjoying motherhood more than I ever thought I would.

My tummy maintains the squishy remnants of having carried a baby and nothing in my wardrobe seems to fit the way I wish it would, but I’m coming to a place of content. I’m continuing to walk daily and am back to going to yoga a few times a week. It took nine months for my body to construct another human being. That in itself is amazing. I can forgive it for not bouncing back to the starting point yet.

I’m grateful for the chance to be in this body, in this moment, and to have the energy and ability to be mobile and active. And every time I see Andy smile I feel so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be her Mom. She is truly amazing.

Andy Magnolia, 13 weeks old.

My wardrobe needs changed overnight – my old clothes are too small and my maternity clothes accentuate areas I no longer want accentuated – so I’m trying to catch up. I can’t sew that fast so I’ve had to invest in some transitional pieces. I’m in desperate need of pants that fit so I’ve started working on a pair of Arenite pants (after falling in love with Meg’s version!). Slowly but surely I’m gaining my sewjo back (so stay tuned!).

For more inspiration, check out these gorgeous C-Section Scar Photos – pretty powerful!

And remember: motherhood is hard enough. Don’t judge another mother’s experience. Very [VERY] little went as planned throughout my pregnancy and now throughout motherhood. This experience has taught me so much. We’re all just trying to be the very best we can be for our children. Sometimes we fall short of our own standards, but we’re all working really hard. Nothing we’ve done (including birth) was easy, but it was totally worth it.