In a house full of baby slings, we only owned two books showing babies and children being carried. From that evening came this project: to find books for babies and toddlers that showed children being carried by their parents.
Backpack Baby By Miriam Cohen (£4.99 Star Bright Books)
This series of 4 small board books shows Backpack Baby carried on his Dad’s back and going through a series of everyday adventures.?Also in the same collection: Say Hi Backpack Baby, Wah-Wah! and Mine. ?One mum says, “I’ve been desperately searching for children’s books that depict the lifestyle my kids are used to and this book fits almost perfectly. My baby always looks very confused when she sees books where the baby is in a cot/ pushchair/carseat/bouncer because she is carried everywhere on my back in a sling! It’s really nice to show her a book she can relate to. The only downside of this story is it shows a baby holding a bottle (but this could be expressed breast milk!). The story is short and intriguing and has a lovely surprise ending.”
Elizabeti’s Doll by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen (£5.99 Lee & Low Books)?
We just love these books showing a young Tanzanian girl. When her baby brother is born, she finds a rock, which she names Eva, and makes it her baby doll, carrying her around like her Mummy is carrying the little brother around. One reader says, “Reading this book reminded me of children I knew in Tanzania. Encouraging a child’s creativity is a universal theme to be celebrated around the world.”
Catch That Goat by Polly Alakija?(£5.99 Barefoot Books)
The Barefoot books have some lovely scenes of everyday life in Africa. They often have mums carrying babies on their back and getting on with their life, in the field, at the market.?Ayoka has been left in charge of the family goat – but within minutes it has vanished. As Ayoka searches the streets of her town she starts to realise just how much trouble the runaway is creating among the market stalls.?At the market, Ayosha comes across a mum selling roasted bananas with her toddler on her back.?One parent says, “I like this book’s cheerful detailed illustrations and simple, toddler-friendly story. The art style is clever enough that there’s something for me to look at while my daughter is finding the goat on each page. It also kind of makes me want to go to Nigeria, which is depicted as consisting mainly of hand-painted shop signs and piles of goods arranged in a collage-like fashion.”
Mama Panya’s Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya by Mary and Rich Chamberlain?(£5.99 Barefoot Books)
Mama Panya is alarmed at the market when her son Adika invites all of their friends to come over for pancakes. However will she feed them all? This clever and heart-warming story about village life teaches children the benefits of sharing as well as introducing simple Swahili phrases.?At the market, you can spot several mums working or shopping while carrying their children on their back.?One mum says, “This is a beautifully illustrated book with a simple tale of a mother and son going off to market to buy ingredients for pancakes as a special treat. The central theme is Kenya’s national motto – harambee, pulling together – and the rewards of sharing. There’s a nicely laid out factual section at the end about everyday life in rural Kenya with a map and even a recipe for pancakes. My seven year old and I both learned new things about Kenya.”
Baby Goes by Derek Brazell (£3.99 Tamarind Books)
Babies will be delighted to see others like them doing all sorts of baby activities – from clapping and dancing, to playing heads, shoulders, knees and toes… and of course high in daddy’s arms and near on mummy’s back. One reader says, “Like Brazell’s other books, this is a terrific first book for babies. There are only two words per page, and the illustrations are really good. My daughter is now 18 months and she still loves looking at the pictures.”
A Ride on Mother’s Back by Emery & Duncan Bernhard?(£16, Gulliver Books)
How do people from different cultures carry their babies? What is it like to ride mother’s back through a rainforest in Brazil, across an oasis in the Sahara, down to a river in Papua New Guinea, over a frozen bay in the artic, along a mountain road in Nepal? This book is packed with drawings of babies being carried around the world. One reader says, “Beautiful images of babies and children from many cultures being carried in wraps and slings, on backs and in arms, as families work and play together. Babywearing and breastfeeding are depicted in harmony with the family’s daily life. Babies and children are shown learning from their close proximity to mother and other family members.”
Carry Me (£5.99 Starbright Books)
This book is an excellent read aloud for carried babies. It features vibrant photographs from around the world, offering an introduction to different cultures. Whether tucked in a blanket, peeking out of a basket, riding in a backpack, or wrapped in a parent’s arms, babies worldwide are carried in unique ways. The simple, rhyming text of this board book introduces children to the ways their global neighbours travel. tinyurl.com/carrymebabieseverywhere in wearing my own babies and it is a joy to share this book with my children and others.”
What Baby Needs by William and Martha Sears and Christie Watts Kelly (£8.99 Sears Children’s Library)
This book explains to soon-to-be older siblings about a new baby’s needs and suggests ways that they can participate in the new baby’s care.?There are several drawings of the baby in a sling, forward facing while Dad is playing football and in a cradle carry while Mum is shopping.
Anne Dhir lives in Scotland. She is a mother of two carried children and founder of babywearing company calinbleu.com which means Blue Hug in French. Thanks to those who have helped with this project: Morag Davidson, Bex Smith, Tracy Morter, SlayterKat, David Brine at the Africa Book Centre africabookcentre.com and Steve at the Willesden Bookshop willesdenbookshop.co.uk. The beautiful image for this story comes from Tulipgirl.com.