When our baby was born, she was given four copies of Goodnight Moon, including one in Spanish. It’s a classic for a reason: the pictures are charming, there’s a sweet mouse to hunt for, it has a lulling repetitive quality and it signals bedtime, that glorious moment when parents can have a glass of wine. For months, we alternated each night between the old lady whispering hush and the equally ubiquitous Madeline and her gang of two straight liners. In an effort to mix things up, I spoke with experts at New York’s most beloved bookshops for suggestions on new modern classics for bedtime or, really, anytime. Corner Bookstore The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers Young Duncan discovers that not only have his crayons gone on strike because they’re overworked and tired of the same projects, day in, day out, but now they’re not even speaking to each other because industrial action can be stressful. It’s a modern classic because: A highly original way of looking at problem solving and how to be sensitive to people’s feelings. Who to buy it for: Young artists, aspiring diplomats, and future negotiators. Goodnight Already by Jory John and Benji Davies Overtired Bear wants nothing more than to get under the covers with his pink bunny and drift off to sleep for weeks, even months. His neighbor Duck, however, is bored and desperate to hang out. It’s a modern classic because: Bear’s grouch to Duck’s chatterbox dynamic mimics bedtime around the world. Plus Bear in his robe is a sight to behold and it’s laugh-out-loud funny, according to Chris Lenahan at the Corner Bookstore. Who to buy it for: Parents at the end of their ropes and/or insomniacs. Thank You and Good Night by Patrick McDonnell In the sweetest book I discovered while researching the modern classics, a stuffed bear, elephant and rabbit have a sleepover, complete with a dance-off, a funny face contest and a midnight snack. It’s a modern classic because: It has a gentle message about being thankful at the end of the day for all one’s adventures. Why to buy it: It perfectly captures the intense friendships that occur between stuffed toys and their children. Hug Machine by Scott Campbell A little boy loves to give hugs. He’s literally a Hug Machine, and no one is too big, too small, or too spiky for a life-changing hug from this little fellow. By the end of the day, he’s pooped from all that hugging and ready to be hugged himself. It’s a modern classic because: A simple but deep story, and pizza is also involved. Who to buy it for: The sensitive souls in your life. A Visitor For Bear by Bonny Becker & Kady MacDonald Denton A misanthropic bear is trying to make his breakfast in peace but a “small and gray and bright-eyed” little mouse insists on intruding, and to everyone’s surprise a friendship blossoms. It’s a modern classic because: It ticks all the boxes with its lovely illustrations, comfortingly repetitive text, and odd-couple pairing. Who to buy it for: Anyone whose favourite part of Goodnight, Moon is spotting the young mouse and/or anyone who loves breakfast. Book Culture Ten Little Fingers & Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox & Helen Oxenbury From the Australian writer Mem Fox, a sweet book about what unites us all, using the ear-pleasing refrain of each “of these babies, as everyone knows, had ten little fingers and ten little toes.” With charming, old-fashioned illustrations of plump babies from around the world. It's a modern classic because: Important (but not preachy) message about how we're more alike than we are different. Why to buy it: The "big reveal" at the end won't make you sob, unlike Robert Munch's wonderful, though wrenching, classic Love You Forever. Little Owl's Night by Divya Srinivasan Our hero, Little Owl, meets all sorts of nocturnal creatures as he roams through the forest on a foggy night. As dawn breaks, it's time for Little Owl to go to bed. It's a modern classic because: Atmospheric drawings and stylized animals transport readers into the dense, dark forest. Who to buy it for: Nighthawks, young or old. Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin In this lush, quirky bedtime read, exquisitely dressed children ride giant bunnies and kittens to Dreamland, a place where "maps are made of starlight." It's a modern classic because: Unexpected rhyming couplets will remain fresh after the 20th reading. Why to buy it: As Book Culture's Annie Hedrick says, "smart kids appreciate good literature from a young age." McNally Jackson Sometimes I Like to Curl Up In A Ball by Vicki Churchill & Charles Fuge Fresh and silly rhymes chronicle a little wombat's busy day all the way to bedtime. It's a modern classic because: Bedtime is inevitable, but unlike Goodnight Moon, there's no existential crisis lurking with that blank ‘Goodnight, Nobody’ page, says McNally Jackson's Cristin Stickles. Who to buy it for: Small children obsessed with exotic animals. Gossie & Gertie by Olivier Dunrea The daily antics of two goslings offer a meditation on the dynamics of best friendship -- when to follow, when to lead, fashion choices and, of course, sharing a meal. It's a modern classic because: Gertie's new-found independence reminds us all to be our own person. Who to buy it for: Your BFF's new baby and anyone you know who is a bit bossy. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle & Jill McElmurry Animal sounds, street noises, and cheerful, old-fashioned illustrations come together in a tale of a truck stuck in the muck and the farm animals who band together to get it back on the road. It's a modern classic because: Adults can endure it long after the 66th reading. If the whole family loves it, even better news because it's the first in a series that also includes a sticker book, holiday versions, and a Spanish version. Buy it for: Anyone. McNally Jackson's Cristin Stickles says she can't imagine a board book section without it. Alison Schwartz is the founder of www.onclarendonroad.com, a private library curation service. She lives in New York with her family.
Charlene Petitjean-Barkulis is the managing editor at Lucie's List, an online guide to pregnancy and parenting. She is dedicated to supporting women as they enter motherhood by producing useful and engaging content — something that she strove to do as the managing editor of Well Rounded (a pregnancy and mom community acquired by Motherly). Originally from Paris, France, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two sons. When she's not working, she's usually chasing after kiddos, falling down the social media rabbit hole, or enjoying a glass of Sancerre while binge-watching Netflix.
Chrissy Teigen is one of the most famous moms in the world and definitely one of the most famous moms on social media.
She's the Queen of Twitter and at least the Duchess of Instagram but with a massive following comes a massive dose of mom-shame, and Teigen admits the online comments criticizing her parenting affects her.
"Any time I post a picture of them holding ribs or eating sausage, I get a lot of criticism," she explained. "Vegans and vegetarians are mad and feel that we're forcing meat upon them at a young age. They freak out."
Teigen continues: "If they get a glimpse of the car seat there is a lot of buckle talk. Maybe for one half of a second, the strap slipped down. And TV is another big one. We have TV on a lot in my house. John and I work on television; we love watching television."
Teigen wants the shame to stop, not just for herself but for all the other moms who feel it. (And we agree.)
"Hearing that nine out of 10 moms don't feel like they're doing a good enough job is terrible," she said. "We're all so worried that we're not doing all that we can, when we really are."
The inspiration for Teigen talking publicly about mom-shame may be in part because of her participation in Pampers' "Share the Love" campaign. But even though Teigen's discussion coincides with this campaign, the message remains equally important. Advertising can be a powerful tool for shifting the way society thinks about what's "normal" and we would much rather see companies speaking out against mom-shame than inducing it to sell more stuff.
Calling out mom-shame in our culture is worth doing in our lives, our communities and yes, our diaper commercials. Thank you Chrissy (and thank you, Pampers).
Dear fellow mama,
I was thinking about the past the other day. About the time I had three small boys—a newborn, his 2-year-old brother and his 5-year-old brother.
How I was always drowning.
How I always felt guilty no matter how hard I tried.
How hard it was—the constant exhaustion, struggling to keep my home any kind of clean or tidy, how I struggled to feed my kids nutritious meals, to bathe them and clean them and keep them warmly dressed in clean clothing, to love them well or enough or well enough.
Those years were some of the toughest years I have ever encountered.
But mama, I am here to tell you that it doesn't last forever. Slowly, incrementally, without you even noticing, it gets easier. First, one child is toilet trained, then the bigger one can tie his own shoelaces, then finally they are all sleeping through the night.
It's hard to imagine; I really really get it.
It is going to get easier. I swear it. I'm not saying that there won't be new parenting challenges, that it won't be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. It will be. But it will get easier.
These days, all of my kids get the bus to school and back. Most of them dress themselves. They can all eat independently and use the toilet. Sometimes they play with each other for hours leaving me time to do whatever I need to do that day.
I sleep through the night. I am not constantly in a haze of exhaustion. I am not overwhelmed by three tiny little people needing me to help them with their basic needs, all at the same time.
I can drink a hot cup of coffee. I do not wish with every fiber of my being that I was an octopus, able to help each tiny person at the same time.
I am not tugged in opposite directions. I don't have to disappoint my 3-year-old who desperately wants to play with me while I am helping his first grade bother with his first grade reading homework.
And one day, you will be here too.
It's going to get easier. I promise. And while it may not happen today or even next week or even next month, it will happen. And you will look around in wonder at the magnificent people you helped to create and nurture and sustain.
Until then, you are stronger and more resilient than you can even imagine.
You've got this. Today and always.
A fellow mama
I am broken.
It has happened again and I am breaking even more. Soon, the pieces will be too small to put back together.
The negative pregnancy test sits on my bathroom sink like a smug ex-lover. I am left pleading, How could you do this to me again? I thought it would be different this time. I had hope.
We are still trying. It has been 11 months and 13 days and there has been no progress. No forward momentum. No double solid lines. The emptiness of the space where the line should be mocks me.
I am broken.
No amount of planning and scheming and effort is enough. I am not enough because I cannot make a chemical reaction happen at the exact moment it needs to happen. I cannot do what I want but oh how I wish I could.
It almost happened once. Two months ago, I felt different. Sore breasts and aware of the world like never before. I felt not empty. The blankness had been replaced by someone. I was sure of it. And I was late. Six days late and I thought this is it.
I didn't rush to test because I didn't want to jinx it. Or perhaps I just didn't want to let go of that string of hope. Without evidence that you're not actually here, I can pretend that you are.
So I waited. And I Googled early pregnancy symptoms and I kept an eye out for red spots I hoped I would never see. I finally couldn't wait any longer and decided the next morning would be the test.
But when I woke up, I knew it was just me. The feeling I had been feeling was gone and I knew, just knew, what I would find.
This test had words instead of lines. 'Not pregnant' it blared loudly, obnoxiously, insensitively.
I am broken.
It was four in the morning and I stood in my tiny bathroom apartment silently sobbing. Alone.
Perhaps you were there for a brief moment, but then you were gone.
I stared again at the stick.
It was taunting me now.
I wrapped it in a paper towel. Walked down three flights of stairs to the front of my building and threw it in the garbage can outside.
Later, when my husband woke, I told him I was wrong. There was nothing there after all.
And I mourned. All day long, I mourned. While I walked to work. While I said hello to my co-workers. While I answered questions and pretended to smile and tried not to think of the broken body I was living in.
The next day the blood arrived. Furious. Both of us infuriated it was there once again.
Can I keep doing this?
Am I broken?
Will I get to the point where I just… stop? Stop hoping. Stop praying. Stop wishing. Stop. Trying.
Am I broken? Or can I keep going?
One of my biggest jobs as a mama is to create a foundation for my kids to become trailblazers and problem-solvers. It's not an easy task. I'm constantly wondering what type of person they'll become and how I can ensure they'll be awesome citizens of the world. For me, part of raising and encouraging future leaders starts with exposure—the more I introduce them to notable leaders in history, the better they can envision their own future.
This is why I love when brands create inspirational clothing and accessories for kids. And this month, Piccolina, a lifestyle brand for littles, added an exclusive Black History Month capsule collection to their trailblazer tees series and they are too cute for words.
The Black History Month line honors heroic leaders like Harriet Tubman, Maya Angelou, Katherine Johnson and Rosa Parks on colorful tees. It even features illustrations by emerging artists of color like Monica Ahanonu, Erin Robinson and Joelle Avelino who are, in my opinion, just as important.
In addition to the tops, the collection features art prints that coincide with the shirts, making this a perfect addition to any kids room—and even mama's office. Perhaps even more exciting are the price points: The limited-edition tees retail for $28 and framed art prints are $60.
Maya Angelou trailblazer tee
This cotton tee features a portrait of the award-winning author, poet and civil rights activist and is the perfect way for your little one to celebrate her inner storyteller. A portion of the shirts proceeds benefit non-profit organizations that support girls' education and empowerment, such as the Malala Fund and Step Up.
While I'm not sure what type of person my little ones will become, I'm certain that introducing them to leaders will help them have greater self-confidence and reinforce that they are competent and resilient, too. And what mama can't get behind that? Now the hardest part is deciding which ones to purchase.