One of the things I was most looking forward to, in the days and weeks and months and (yes, even) years that we prepared to become parents was the prospect of reading to our Sprout. Cuddling up with my kiddo in a cozy chair, with a big stack of picture books -- pretty much my idea of heaven.
And I'm pleased to say that, more than 18 months into the process of parenting this little bug, the experience continues to delight me. It is without question our favorite time of day, and it's time we spend as a family, since Daddy and our puppy dog join us too. Most of our reading is done while Sprout's in the bathtub, which works for us, but we always save at least one book for when he's tucked up in bed. Usually I try to steer him toward more "active" titles at first, and then pull out a gentle, calmer tale for that last title of the night.
In that vein, Patricia MacLachlan's Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby could not be more perfect. Gentle and soothing, this would be a fantastic choice to read with a drowsy baby or toddler, or even an older child who may be reading parts of it to you. The book follows a Tanzanian family through their day, as mother and child spend the day together, working in the fields, preparing meals, enjoying the cool breezes from Lake Tanganyika. Elizabeth Zunon brings MacLachlan's simple text to life, capturing the rolling rhythm of the day in the serenity of the mother's countenance and the bright eyes of her baby. At the end of the day, Mama and baby watch Baba's boat out on the lake, and Mama rocks her child to sleep, safe in the knowledge that he is loved and well cared for.
I'm always on the lookout for quality titles about East Africa to share with Sprout, and the sensitive portrayals in Lala Salama fill the bill. Plus, it's a simply gorgeous title for us to marvel over and read aloud, in that hushed cocoon of evening when stories bring us all together. Add this to your family bedtime routine -- after a busy day, it's just the thing.
Lala Salama by Patricia MacLachlan, published by Candlewick Press
Personal collection (full disclosure: I won this from a contest hosted by Cynthia Leitich Smith on her blog Cynsations -- if you don't read this a-ma-zing blog, you should!)