Today, many baby showers are asking guest to forego bringing shower cards. Instead, they ask guests to put that money towards a book for baby. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Greeting cards can cost up to six or seven dollars. And honestly, who reads the cards after the shower is over and the gifts are put away. If you’re lucky, the mom might stick them in a baby book where they will be completely ignored. If you aren’t that lucky, they just end up in the trash.

But children’s books aren’t really that expensive. For the same price as a nice baby shower card, you can purchase a lovely board book that the child will actually use. You can write your greeting right on the title page, keeping the memory of your love front and center for the entire family to see.

This has more advantages than just keeping cards out of landfills. Educators now believe that there is a direct correlation between the number of books in a child’s home and that child’s educational opportunities. The more books a child has in their toddlerhood, the more likely it is that child will attend college.

That’s why so many showers encourage guests to bring books, starting a collection that can lead the baby to the ivy league.

That’s great if you know a lot about children’s books. But what if you don’t? Rest easy. We’re going to go down the list of books that you can bring to a baby shower instead of a card.

Board Books

This is, by far, the most common type of book people think of when they consider baby books. The heavy cardboard books fill shelf after shelf at any bookstore. There are titles that are only available as board books, while others are shorter versions of classic picture books. There are many benefits to board books. First of all, as their name implies, the “board” makes the books difficult to tear. So, they aren’t destroyed by uncoordinated hands. Secondly, and in some ways more importantly, the sturdy pages and small size make them easier to turn the page with one hand. This helps adults read while cradling a baby in one arm.

But they aren’t perfect. Board books are tougher than regular picture books, but they aren’t indestructible. They can tear, especially along the spine. They also will show tooth marks if the baby tries to put a corner in the mouth. More than one baby board book has met its demise in the mouth of a teething infant.

Thankfully, board books aren’t the only books to consider for a baby shower.

Cloth Books

Cloth books have come a long way from the olden days. Originally, cloth books were simple stories printed on cloth that was sewn into pages that were cut into a crinkle pattern to prevent the fabric from fraying. In the early part of the 20th Century, they were the only books available that babies couldn’t tear or destroy. Of course, now we have a lot of different materials for baby books. For a while, it seemed as though cloth books disappeared. When they came back, they were completely different. Cloth books today are far more interactive. You might have a book inside a plush animal. There are books shaped like houses with each page that looks like a different room. Some books have small stuffed characters that interact with each page.

There are many benefits to cloth books. They are silent when dropped, and they don’t hurt if they fall on an adult’s foot. They can be twisted, chewed and banged. Plus, you can keep many books closed by tying, zippering, or Velcro-ing the covers closed. But the biggest reason why cloth books remain so popular is because no matter how soiled the book may become, all parents have to do is pop the book in the washing machine and it comes out as good as new.

Bathtub Books

These small, plastic books are great for the tub. Many books like this are made from plastic with foam to puff out the pages. This allows the book to float in the tub. It also allows the maker to add fun, interactive pieces such as rattles, squeakers and clickers. Beyond the words on the page, these additions can keep baby occupied while in the tub. As the baby splashes and rattles the books, enjoying bath play, Mom or Dad can lather and rinse.

But not all bathtub books float. There is a new type that doesn’t have all the foam. The books are made from the same tear-resistant material as mailers. These books have the same detailed illuatrations as books with paper pages, but the books are almost indestructible. Babies can bend, pull and bite on the books and they will just bounce back. They also work great in the tub, since the material is impervious to water.

Both types of bathtub books have the benefit of simply wiping clean from any spill or spit up that comes their way.

Picture Books

That unborn baby won’t stay a baby forever. He or she will grow up and want something more than a novelty book. This makes picture books a great option for the child’s long-term reading. Stocking up their bookshelves does more than just prepare them for the future. Studies show that babies can hear and remember books read to them in the womb. Picture books, especially books that the parent loved as a child, can entice the parent to read aloud to their unborn child. So, if possible, choose a book that the parent loved as a little one.

Of course, you can go another way. Do you know a parent that hates green beans? Loves Tacos? Or has a quirky sense of humor? Take a look around the newer picture books and explore titles that might draw a chuckle or a heartfelt sigh from Mom or Dad.

Because ultimately, whatever book you choose, you are building a bridge between generations, giving the new baby a view of the world that will help him or her thrive.

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