Tag Archives: aunts

Tiny Books for Tiny People

About this time last year, I was celebrating my nephew’s first birthday. He’s a just few weeks away from getting two candles on his cake and there’s a little sister due to arrive any day now (I have St. Patty’s day in the due-date pool). We’re getting more into books now – at least when he isn’t ripping pages out in an effort to see what happens next – and if I have to read the books, I might as well pick some that I’ll enjoy, too.

We don’t normally feature children’s books on here (we like to leave such things to our friends over at the lovely Story Pockets blog), but for my fellow aunts and uncles out there wanting to step up their story time game, these books are ones to add to your rotation.

The Monster at the End of This Book – Spoiler alert: the monster is Grover! This is classic Sesame Street and is a nice break if the tiny person in your life is obsessed with all things Elmo (or “Melmo,” in my nephew’s case).

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus – I want to hang out with Mo Willems.  His books are silly enough for kids, but crafted with smart puns and word-play to keep adults amused. 

Llama Llama Red Pajama – For the budding rhymer in your life. Anna Dewdney‘s books about a young Llama cover everything from first day of pre-school anxiety to toy-sharing.

Moo Baa La La La! – You can both work on your animal sounds with this book! I also dig Sandra Boynton‘s What’s Wrong Little Pookie?

Little PeaLittle Hoot, and Little Oink – Aside from adorableness, Amy Krouse Rosenthal‘s three books are a great way to introduce opposites (and/or irony). Pea has to suffer through eating his sweets before he can enjoy his vegetables; Hoot just wants to go to bed, but is expected to stay up all night; and Oink loves to keep things tidy.

– Jess, who also just realized she’s hit her one year anniversary with 11th Stack! Yay!

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Aunt Awesome

Last week, my nephew turned one. And in my first year of aunt-dom, I think I’ve done pretty okay. I’ve introduced him to Batman, hockey, and The Beatles; kept him well stocked in hand-knits; and will happily sit through an episode or two of Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Not a bad start in my quest to be the cool aunt. While I had my own cool aunt growing up (she had the best nail polish collection…), there are a few ladies in pop culture I can look to for inspiration.

For me, the ultimate cool aunt is Mame Dennis. The 1955 novel by Patrick Dennis was loosely based on his own eccentric aunt, Marion Tanner. In the story, an orphaned Patrick is sent to live with his wonderfully bohemian Auntie Mame. She gives Patrick a notebook to keep track of the words he doesn’t know, teaches him how to make a good martini, and encourages him to live life to the fullest. I’ve always appreciated Mame’s view that “life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.” The 1958 movie, starring the great Rosalind Russell is one of my all time favorites.

Abby and Martha Brewster seem like the super-typical spinster aunts, however there is more to these two ladies from Arsenic and Old Lace than meets the eye. Sure, they make a mean elderberry wine cocktail, with just a pinch of cyanide (it’s simply a bit of charity that helps lonely old bachelors move on to the next phase of life). But they also know their nephew Teddy is happiest when left to the delusions that he’s Teddy Roosevelt – charging up the staircase like it was San Juan Hill and digging the Panama Canal in the cellar (while taking care of a few dead bodies). The Brewster aunts may be a little nuts, but they also encourage Teddy and their two other nephews to be themselves.

On the the long-running show Roseanne, Aunt Jackie usually had no idea what she wanted out of life for herself. But she was always there for Becky (both of them), Darlene, and DJ. Especially in the early years of the show, when Jackie would team up with DJ in schemes to terrorize his older sisters. Like Jackie, I may not always know what the heck I’m doing, but I want the best for my little guy.

–Jess

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By Any Other Name

My sister and her husband are expecting their third child sometime next spring, which made it doubly wonderful to spend time with the growing family over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Hanging out with a tween and a pre-schooler definitely honed the aunt skills, but suggesting potential names for the new sprout proved trickier. Although I’m very good at naming pets, none of my baby name suggestions, male or female, struck a chord with the parents-to-be.

To be fair, naming is a difficult thing, and a very personal one. Whenever you name a person, pet or thing, you want something that sounds good, carries meaning, and can’t be twisted into a cruel or otherwise unfortunate nickname. On top of that, there may be religious or cultural factors to take into consideration, as well as the desire to avoid–or accommodate– the trendy or unusual.

The world wide web is awash with baby name websites, to be sure, but if you have a name to choose, and you’re tired of staring at your computer screen, why not try a different tack?  Make yourself a cup of tea, then settle into a comfy chair in a quiet place with one of the library’s many books about names and naming.  Not sure where to start?  Consider these:

Penguin ClassicThe Penguin Classic Baby Name Book, ed. Grace Hamlin. Looking for a literary namesake? Take a flip through nearly 500 pages of options from the world’s greatest works of fiction.

Mother of all Baby Name Books

The Mother of All Baby Name Books, Bruce Lansky. Because puns are fun! Also, with 94,000 names to choose from, this is a great option if you don’t have room in your bag for multiple books.

Celtic Baby NamesCeltic Baby Names, Judy Sierra. If Western mythology and folklore tend to inspire you, grab this guide to pronunciations and meanings from the British Isles and figure out if Declan, Dylan, or Dana might be a good option for you and your baby (I’d avoid Tristan and Isolde, though, just on general principle).

World NamesA World of Baby Names, Teresa Norman. Diversity abounds in this collection of names that dedicates a chapter to just about every country and culture under the sun, including Czech/Slovak, Hawaiian, Native American, and Southeast Asian names. Perfect for families seeking to honor an ancestor, celebrate an adoption, or otherwise open up their naming options.

Auntie LAV can’t wait to see what they pick, but until then, she’ll just have to wait patiently.  Did you have difficulty naming your children?  Your kittens?  Your computer?  If you were going to take a new name to reflect the person you’ve grown up to be, what would you pick?

Dana Elizabeth Veronica Leigh Anne

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