Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!

Now that I'm entering the third trimester, I wanted to stock up on the baby's first library - just 5-6 books. You won't believe how absurdly hard it is to find baby books in India. You get plenty of the paperback know-your-alphabet, know-your-numbers variety, but books that don't serve a specific (fairly boring) purpose don't seem to be in vogue. 

I shop online for the most part, so I checked BabyOye, Firstcry, and Landmark. No books for infants. Crossword had a children's fiction section, and I got excited, until I realized it included Twilight. Enough said. Flipkart actually had the best collection of all, but you wouldn't know it if you didn't search for specific titles, eg: Goodnight Moon. Otherwise, whether you sort by popularity or by price, the first few pages of search results are full of the read-to-learn type books. 

It's pretty depressing. Is no one reading to their infants just for the fun of it any more? Given most of the classics cost above Rs. 400 (for the paperback version!) and online pricing tends to be demand-driven, I'm guessing Indians aren't buying them by the bucketload. Dr. Seuss books seem to be the exception, so hopefully someone's reading those and/or they're being published here, instead of all being imported.

This super funny video says it better than I could:

One bit of silver lining was discovering a Facebook group called 'Best Book Deals for Kids.' Parents sell their used children's books here on a first-come first-served basis. I really like some of the titles posted. The only downside is that you can't guarantee seeing titles in the age range you're looking for, or that you'll be the first to grab them when they do. 

Meanwhile, if you'd really like to read to your infant but aren't sure where to start, here's my top ten list:

* The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
* Mother Goose by Iona Opie/Sylvia Long
* Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
* Balloonia by Audrey Wood
* The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss
* Dr Seuss' Sleep Book
* Dr Seuss' One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
* Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw
* Each Peach, Pear, Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
* Guess how much I love you by Sam McBratney

I have nothing against Indian authors, but I haven't heard of any books with alliteration or simple language for very young babies. If you know of any Indian authors who write for infants, I'd love to check them out. 

This is just a list off the top of my head, and I hear it's a fact that your brain literally shrinks in the third trimester. So are there any classics I'm missing? Let me know! Reccos are also welcome for slightly older babies.

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