Every year for Christmas I buy Olive a book. Not just any book, though, a special one.
Usually, the requirement is that it has to make me well up with tears when I read it and encompass something of the phase or stage of life she’s in. I don’t think I’ve ever shared these books with you, so I’m going to do that now, along with the book I’ve picked for this year and why it strikes a special chord with me.
The very first of these special Christmas books was “Someday” by Alison Mcghee, which I bought for Olive’s very first Christmas when she was just two months old.
This book is absolute magic. It follows a mother as she envisions her daughter’s future, all the experiences that will fill her somedays.
This one tugs at my heart because of the simplicity of sentiment and the gorgeous, spare illustrations, but also because of the nature of her forecasting.
This isn’t a saccharine wish for happiness and success and good things only.
Someday speaks from the perspective of a mother who wants a whole life for her child, not just a good one. I want Olive to drink in the meaning of this message and to take life for all that it has to offer, even the hard parts. I want her to learn from these challenges and grow because of them, too.
I adore this book and I cry almost every time I read it. I relate to it so much, and the dual sense of joy and sorrow when contemplating all the things Olive will experience without me.
For her second Christmas, I gave Olive “The Crown On Your Head”. I don’t have pictures of this one because I accidentally left it at her dad’s house, but it’s one of Nancy Tillman’s books filled with her characteristic vibrant illustrations and that beautiful rhyming cadence that I absolutely love in children’s books.
This story centers around the irrevocable sense of valuable self that emerges when a child is born and that will accompany them throughout their life – their “crown”. I used to read this to Olive every night before bed and she’d fall asleep before I got to the last page.
Last year I gave Olive “The Wonderful Things You Will Be” by Emily Winfield Martin. I am head over heels in love with the illustrations, they’re adorable and I really appreciate that they depict a diverse array of children.
The theme of the story was just perfect for Olive and me as we began navigating the somewhat challenging world of being three.
It is important for me to focus on the qualities I wanted her to grow up to have and continually work with her to master them.
It’s a slow process – and often feels like one step forward, two steps back – but I think we are well on our way.
This year, I’m more excited than ever for Olive to open her book: Oliver Jeffer’s “A Child of Books”.
I was immediately drawn in by the title because Olive truly is a child of books. She is because I am.
I wrote thousands of words about Olive before I ever even met her and written words – my own and those of others – have filled her life every single day since.
Growing up, I didn’t have a TV until I was 14 or 15 years old- something I hated then and am immensely grateful for now.
Any gap in entertainment that was left after exhausting the attentions of my five siblings was quickly filled with books. I lost myself in picture books, chapter books, and whatever looked interesting on my parent’s bookshelves.
My absolute favourite part of the week was going to the library and filling my library bag with books which I’d devour before returning them the next week and borrowing more.
As we get nearer and nearer to the day when Olive learns how to read on her own (she has already begun to sound out short words as she sees them) I become positively giddy. I know so well the world that’s about to open up to her and I just can’t wait for her to discover it.
This book views that world with just as much reverence as I do.
I can’t wait for her to open this gift on our Christmas morning and read it to her for the first time.
She is a child of books, and I couldn’t be more proud to be one of the lucky ones writing them.
Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful stories Madeleine – I was nearly in tears after reading the pages of the first one! I think our 2-year-old daughter will have you to thank for another lovely gift under the tree this Christmas. 😉
You are such an inspiration; you truly have a gift with words and I take great joy in reading your posts every time they appear in my inbox. I also love your book!
Merry Christmas to you and Olive – may you have a beautiful holiday season filled with love, laughter, family, and lots of reading!
Beautiful books, Olive is so fortunate to have you…
Have you read Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson and Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman? My daughter Lucinda was born on exactly the same day as Olive and they are favourites in a similar vein. Merry Christmas to you both. X x
Thank you for this article! My daughter Olivia is one year old and she absolutely loves books! I live in Germany, but my husband is American and we speak English at home. I’m always looking for good English children’s books to give to her, so I was so happy to read about your and Olive’s favorites! I hope I can get my hands on some of them without paying a fortune for shipping, or maybe I’ll just get them at my next visit in the US. Thank you so much for your blog! I’ve got a bookmark and that’s one of my favorite things to read. I always get excited when I see a new post is up. I don’t even know you, but your words are so encouraging and inspiring to me.
Aww, I’m glad this post helped, and it’s so fantastic that your daughter will grow up learning two languages!
And thank you so much for your kind words, it always means so much when I hear that people appreciate what I write!
the Book Depository! I live in France, English speaking household and order all the time from there….they are in the UK and shipping is always free. Otherwise I order on Amazon France which has a large selection of English books, I’m sure Amazon Germany has the same thing, and usually shipping is far more reasonable than ordering from overseas if not free. Good luck!
Thank you for sharing your favorites. I had only ever read “The Wonderful Things You Will Be” before tonight. We requested the others from the library and read them tonight. I am especially in love with “A Child of Books”. Have you and Olive read “All the World” by Liz Garton Scranton and illustrated by Marla Frazee? Beautiful illustrations and the last two pages choked me up when I read it for the first time. Another favorite of ours is “I Like Myself” by Karen Beaumont,
“No matter if they stop and stare,
Can make me feel that what they see,
Is all there really is to me.”
As always, love your blog and reading your posts. Also, I would be glad to hear any other children’s book recommendations you have! 😉