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Parenting as a Reader

Jaime Herndon


Jaime Herndon finished her MFA in nonfiction writing at Columbia, after leaving a life of psychosocial oncology and maternal-child health work. She is a writer, editor, and book reviewer who drinks way too much coffee. She is a new-ish mom, so the coffee comes in extra handy. Twitter: @IvyTarHeelJaime

pregnant woman reading featured

As the (very) proud aunt of a niece and nephew, and a seasoned nanny, I’ve bought my share of baby, children’s, and early reader books. I used to work in a children’s/YA bookstore, and love my share of middle grade and YA books. But things seem to change when suddenly, you’re faced with being a parent yourself. Granted, I’m early on in the journey (early second trimester), but already it feels different, and I’m wondering how my reading life will change.

I am a voracious reader, and have been since the age of 2. I’m never without a book (or more likely, 2 or 3), and it’s not unheard of for me to finish a book or two in a day. The Goldfinch took me a little more than 36 hours (the library lent a copy out on a span of several days only, when it first came out). Currently, I’m reading the 900 page City on Fire.

The fatigue and nausea of early pregnancy have drastically cut into my work and reading time, and I’m wondering if this is only the beginning. I know that my leisurely weekends of reading and writing will come to an end. But reading is a huge part of my life – and I fear becoming “soft,” so to speak. I fear that I will only want to read brain candy books, or suddenly, Mo Willems will be the extent of my reading material. Yes, a minor concern, in the grand scheme of things, but it falls on the spectrum of “how will my identity change once I become a parent?”  I’m wondering how other Rioters and readers have navigated this.

And my kid – Eric Carle is a no-brainer, as are Dr. Seuss and Sandra Boynton. Do I want to stay clear or the overly-gendered board books, like princesses, tutus, monster trucks, and diggers? (Although I confess, I’m a sucker for Ladybug Girl and Madeline).

How have other parents started or developed their child’s library? I’ve read about baby showers where people have to bring a child’s book to put into a “wishing well,” and things like that. If you could recommend one book for a child, what book would it be?