Text & Photos:
Julie Schwietert Collazo
When we found out that I was pregnant with baby 2, I headed to McNally Jackson’s excellent kids’ section to see if I could find books for Mariel about becoming a big sibling. She’d exhibited nothing but excitement and eager anticipation since we’d told her about the impending birth of her brother, but every book we found addressed themes of jealousy, sibling rivalry, and the older sibling’s fear of being replaced by the new baby.
Since these weren’t feelings or ideas Mariel had expressed herself, I wasn’t keen on introducing them to her. Instead, I wanted to find books that would mirror her own excitement while helping her understand and anticipate what it might mean to be a big sister.
In the months since that initial search for big sister and big brother books, I’ve found only three that I really like. Since I know other parents who have been searching for similarly themed books, I wanted to share them here:
Hello in There! A Big Sister’s Book of Waiting, by Jo Witek
This book was published just this year and is listed as being appropriate for big siblings aged 2-4. It’s a perfect book for helping the big sister through the months of waiting for her little brother or sister to be born; the drawings and words show the mother’s stomach getting bigger, and young readers can peek into the mom’s belly to see the approximate size of the fetus as it’s developing. The big sister shows nothing but excitement about all the things in the world she’s waiting to introduce to “her” baby, which reflected Mariel’s own excitement precisely.
I Have a Brother, by Smiljana Coh
Even kids who are excited about the birth of a younger sibling have a tendency to show some regressive traits (Mariel told me yesterday, “I want to be back in your belly!”), and this book focuses on all the pluses of being a big kid who can teach his or her younger sibling about fun things. It does this by framing the birth of the younger sibling positively, rather than as a prospective threat to the older child’s place in the family.
I’m a Big Sister, by JoAnna Cole
This book is particularly appropriate once the baby is born, as it begins with the baby’s arrival at home. The reader sees a smiling older sister who is excited and curious, and who understands a great deal about what the new baby can and can’t do, developmentally. The reader also sees the big sister helping her parents care appropriately for the new baby, as well as receiving positive reinforcement, love, and attention from her parents. The author has also published a version of the book geared toward big brothers to be; its title is “I’m a Big Brother.”
My only dissatisfaction with these books is that none of them features characters of color . It seems that it would be easy enough to adapt each of these books to represent a diverse range of families.
Know any fantastic books for older siblings? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.