When preparing to add a new baby to the household, many parents seek out books that will gently introduce their older child to the idea. Just like with any transition, kids have a lot of questions and may need reassurance that the new baby isn't going to take their place in mommy and daddy's hearts (even though it may seem that way at first). And there are tons of titles that do this very thing quite well -- everything from the classics (Berenstain Bears, Little Critter) to newer titles like Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Baby? by Barney Saltzberg and Waiting for Baby by Rachel Fuller. The latter title I especially like not only for its bright, appealing artwork but also because it features a multiracial family -- this could be a terrific tool for parents who have previously adopted and are now expecting a biological child, for example.
But for families who are adding a child through adoption, very few titles explain this phenomenon from the older sibling's point of view. A notable exception is Yumi Heo's Ten Days and Nine Nights. In this sweetly relatable picture book, the older sister prepares to welcome home a new baby from Korea. Heo does a great job of addressing issues common to older siblings in this situation, from seeing Mommy off on the plane, to redecorating her bedroom and making room for a crib. Through it all, Sister is surrounded by the reassuring presence of Daddy, grandparents, and her friend Molly. And the sense of anticipation is emphasized by Sister's calendar countdown, where she crosses off the days until baby sister joins their family. The final spread, of the two sisters smiling at one another, underscores the celebratory nature of the text.
What I appreciate most about Ten Days and Nine Nights is that it doesn't go into an explanation of adoption and what that means. There are plenty of titles that do this, and Heo does offer some spreads that show Mommy going about the business of completing the adoption in Korea, while Sister prepares at home. But this title is aimed at validating the older sibling's experience, which in my mind makes it unique and beneficial for any family expanding through adoption, whether international or domestic. Families with only one child will also appreciate Heo's book, as it helps explain to a child what the rest of the family was going through to prepare for his/her arrival. And the charmingly simple artwork is a winner all on its own.
Ten Days and Nine Nights by Yumi Heo, Schwartz & Wade Books, 2009
Sample quote "I mark a circle on the calendar. I have ten days and nine nights."
Mary Kinser is a librarian and lifelong children's book addict. She is also the proud mama of a little boy whose bookshelf will probably always be too full. She began her blog, Sprout's Bookshelf, out of the continual efforts to surround her son with books that support him, as part of a transracial family formed through international adoption. RainbowKids is beyond thrilled to have Mary share her expert knowledge and passion of children's books with our RK family so we can all feed into our bulging bookshelf of top notch children's books passion!