I admit, the folk tales and stork mythology stories that seek to answer “where do babies come from?” don’t appeal to me a bit. I want my kids to understand the actual facts in age appropriate ways and the right book can be perfect for that very thing. Especially if you’re feeling awkward about it yourself.
So was thrilled to find just what I have been looking for–and probably a lot of you too–in the absolutely charming, wonderful, relatable The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall whose title belies the informative lesson about reproduction for young kids.
A child about to have a baby sibling sets out to learn where that new baby is going to come from, only to discover all sorts of tales and half-truths from the people in his life. Like when the mailman explains babies come from eggs, or the librarian explains they come “from the hospital,” they are being accurate–although no clear enough. In a child’s mind, he imagines dozens of infants lined up in the hospital gift shop, ready for purchase.
(Only Grandpa is totally off-base with the stork explanation. Fortunately my kids had no idea what that meant at all. We’ve come a long way, baby!)
When the thoroughly confused little boy finally comes to his parents at the end to get the real story (a good lesson in itself), it turns out there’s a bit of truth in each of the stories he’s heard, with the exception of the stork. Of course. And that makes for a sweet comic ending.
The story is extraordinary clear and enjoyable for kids about 5-8, thanks in part to Blackall’s charming watercolor illustrations, and a relatable main character who’s probably asking some of the same questions your own children want to. There’s even a straightforward but sensitive epilogue after the story is over, explaining everything in plain terms as well as I’ve seen it done. I’m so appreciative it also covers questions like where babies come from when there’s a single mom, or two dads.
These are children’s real questions for our times, aren’t they?
The Baby Tree is not clinical, it’s not boring, and there’s a reason my own first-grader has gone to sleep reading it every night for a week. In my book, that may make The Baby Tree the best “where do babies come from” story yet.
The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall at our Amazon affiliate, or your local independent bookseller. It’s a fabulous gift for a child about to become a big sibling for the first time.