LitStack Recs: The Sheltering Sky & On the Day You Were Born

On the Day You Were Bornrec
Debra Frasier

Recently, a friend of my husband’s welcomed his first child into the world, and that got my husband and me reminiscing about some of our favorite books that we enjoyed even when our children were tiny.

Of course, there are the Goodnight Moons, the Pat the Bunnys, the Very Hungry Caterpillars – and there’s good reason for these books being so popular. They are wonderful books, and have entertained generations.

But my favorite “baby” book, one that we first got when my son was born over two decades ago, and the book that is still my go-to choice for a gift for a family with a new baby, is Debra Frasier’s On the Day You Were Born. Simple, colorful, blocky illustrations with a whimsical little figure – the “you” baby on the day they were born – twirling and whirling and being held from page to page, is simple in idea and in design.

And the language is lilting, floating. The ideas expressed are precious, personal, loving. They speak to the baby but encompass the whole world. While no baby will understand the concepts being expressed, they will respond to the sounds, to the colors, to the way that the voice coos as the words are being read.

While you waited in darkness
tiny knees curled into chin,
the Earth and her creatures
with the Sun and the Moon
all moved in their places,
each ready to greet you
the very moment
of the very first day you arrived.

What a wonderful way to welcome a new life – with love and celebration!

“Welcome to the spinning world,” the people sang,
as they washed your new, tiny hands.

“Welcome to the green Earth,” the people sang,
as they wrapped your wet, slippery body.

And as they held you close,
they whispered into your open, curving ear,
“We are so glad you’ve come.”

The next time you need to find a gift for a set of new parents, I would highly recommend On the Day You Were Born. It’s a beautiful introduction to the joy of reading to new families that will continue to resonate down the years.

—Sharon Browning