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Simon spent the first two and a half years of his life reading board books. These fat little cardboard books were perfect for little hands guided by even littler impulse control. Many a night we tucked Simon into bed with a board book or two at his insistence.

In the last few weeks, we’ve begun a slow shift towards real books—hardback books with dust-jackets and wide pages. He loves these books and seems to understand that he must treat them gently, even if he can’t always summon up the physical control to do so. For the most part, he sits on my lap and has me read these books to him, even allowing me to turn the pages. It’s like he decided that a new bed deserved new books and a new routine to go with it.

The love affair began with Kitten’s First Full Moon. Our friends Beth and Bob sent this book along to us, I think for my baby shower. We liked it from day one, and it has circulated in and out of our short list of favorites for two years now. The day we got his big boy bed I took the book off the shelf to re-introduce it after an absence and Simon went wild. We read it four times. In a row. And then the next day before his nap we read it three more times. Also in a row. And then Matt got the idea to make the book about Tristan, and Simon went wild.

Loving the book as I do, I needed a break from it. So I grabbed another hardback book, this one a gift from my boss that I liked so much I also bought the board book version, Each Peach Pear Plum. Simon took one look at the gorgeous, British pastoral illustrations in full size and was more interested than I’ve ever seen him. He wanted to look for all the characters (it’s a sort of I Spy with nursery rhyme characters), and the first grocery trip after re-introducing the book he insisted that we buy plums. Eating to match a book? That’s my boy!

Sweetly, the third and final book added to our current short-list is The Kissing Hand, a gift from our friends Sharon and George. Simon received the book for his second birthday, a few months before he was really ready for it. Now, knowing that the book was a gift from his best friend Leah, he is interested and more than ready. The first time we read it, he pressed kisses into my hand–as I did into his–to mirror the book, and at the end he looked at the dust jacket flap, saw the author photo, and thought it was a picture of his Aunt Stacy. That sealed it. This book is now called “Aunt Stacy’s book” or “Leah’s book” and has a special place in his heart alongside the other two.

How special? Well, he insists that we tuck these into bed with him, too. But they are too big to just toss into the bed with him, so until we get a book rack to hang beside his bed, we’ve resorted to placing them under his pillow, as though awaiting a visit from the previously unknown book fairy.

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