Katie Fitzgerald highlights three favorite children’s books about prenatal development.
Whenever we have announced a new pregnancy to our children, it has always been important to us that we affirm from the start the baby’s dignity as a human being. Over the years, I’ve read many picture books about pregnancy, and there are three that have really stood out to me with their excellent portrayals of unborn children. Any of these titles would be perfect to read in anticipation of the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children on January 22.
Nine Months: Before a Baby is Born by Miranda Paul and Jason Chin traces the life of a baby from conception right up until delivery. The left-hand side of each two-page spread shows a drawing of a developing unborn baby. The right-hand side shows the family—mom, dad, and big sister—caring for and awaiting the birth of their new addition. The images of the growing unborn child are drawn at actual size and labeled according to the week of pregnancy and size of the baby. The family’s activities include things like giving the big sister a special t-shirt and viewing an ultrasound in the doctor’s office.
The text is focused solely on prenatal development, so there is no concern that a preschooler will inadvertently gain more knowledge about where babies come from than a parent is ready for him to have. There is also a section at the back of the book that covers circumstances that sometimes affect a pregnancy, including carrying multiples, delivering prematurely, and losing a baby through miscarriage. The perfect blend of science and familial love, this book is a beautiful way to explain the miracle of life to a soon-to-be big brother or sister.
There’s Going to be a Baby by John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury presents an ongoing conversation between an expectant mother and her son, all about what the new baby will be like. Together, the big brother and his mom speculate on all the various careers the baby might take on. The result is not just a funny look into the way kids think, but also a strong affirmation of the fact that unborn babies have a purpose to fulfill on Earth which begins to take shape in the womb.
Oxenbury illustrates the reality-based scenes of the boy and his mother talking, while Burningham provides fantastical drawings of the soon-to-be-born baby attempting the various jobs suggested by the text. The combination of the big brother’s serious concerns and the silly thoughts he has about the baby’s future works to create a very comforting and cozy book for helping a child transition into the role of older sibling.
Finally, in Baby, Come Out! by Fran Manushkin and Ronald Himmler, Mrs. Tracy is expecting a baby. All the members of the Tracy family just can’t wait for their baby to be born, but the unborn child seems perfectly content to stay put. The older brother tries bribing the baby with money, while Grandma tries a cake, and Grandpa offers a ride in the car, but each time the baby refuses to budge. Finally, Daddy comes home, and the promise of his kiss is enough to get the baby moving.
This book is a bit quirky, and the baby in the illustrations looks ridiculously old for even an overdue baby, but there is such a sweetness to the way the family loves the unborn child. The fact that the baby talks back to the family through the mother’s womb also emphasizes the humanity of the child, albeit in a surreal way.
Reading books about the unborn helps even the youngest readers understand that babies are deserving of our love and protection at every stage in their development. Whether a new sibling is on the way or not, these three books are a great way to approach the conversation about the dignity of human life in an age appropriate way that is compatible with Church teaching.
Copyright 2022 Katie Fitzgerald
Image: Canva Pro
About the Author
Katie Fitzgerald is a former children's librarian turned stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. She and her librarian husband live in Maryland with their five children, the youngest of whom are boy/girl twins. She has published two textbooks for librarians, and she writes about homeschooling, books and the reading life from a Catholic perspective at ReadAtHomeMom.com and on Instagram @read.at.home.mom.