My daughter has been my main deal the last two and a half years. So I am obsessed with children's media. My husband and I made a decision to not let her watch TV until she was 2-ish. It is amazing how many people tell you that you should
have your kid watch TV. We weren't making some kind of radical stand with this decision and we certainly aren't fascists about it. But generally there is no TV (even still). Sometimes we surf Google images to find pictures of monkeys
. Monkeys are what she likes best. So we got pretty fanatical about the books she reads and the stuff she plays with. I guess overtly branded stuff makes me queasy. That can wait until she is a little older, as far as I am concerned. Really expensive stuff also seems absurd. Like did you read the article in the NY Times Sunday Styles
(my must read section) on art collecting for the nursery
? Come on! Have them make the art, not buy it.
There is a good amount of monkey-related media out there for the toddler set. She adores this little knit monkey from Bla Bla (she has the mini verde monkey).
And frankly, I do, too. There are also a series of monkey related books by Anthony Browne, a British illustrator, which are wry and a little bit tragic. ALWAYS pre-screen books and media before giving them to your child. There are things that set other parents off that don't bother me at all, and vice versa. My favorite book is called Gorilla, about a girl whose father is too busy to take her to the zoo so she asks for a Gorilla for her birthday. He also did a series of books on a Chimp named Willy ? a quintessential underdog.
Her absolute favorite books are the Jenny Linksy series. I loved these too as a kid. They are actually for young readers but I got them for her a bit early. They are written by Esther Averill in the 1940s and have just been republished by the New York Review Children's Collection. They are about a black cat named Jenny Linksy who wears a red scarf and lives in the west village. She has a series of adventures with her cat friends in the neighborhood and she is shy, loyal, and small. My husband says that seeing these books really gave him a "new window on my personality." The artist uses the same palette as the beloved Good Night Moon series because I think the printing restrictions of the time period. When adults see them they either don't know them at all or they say, "Oh my God, where did you find these? I love these books!" Enjoy them. I made her a scarf to match Jenny Linsky. She loves it.
I also think that kids are often surprising in the things they like. We live near DIA: Beacon and she loves the Michael Heizer sculptures. There is a huge rock in the museum that she loves to think about. We sing songs about it.
Children's music is a touchy subject as well. I don't understand why we inflict terrible music on children. It probably hurts us more than it hurts them. I feel like everyone has heard of Dan Zanes but then I am always surprised when another mother says, "Who is that?" Dan Zanes makes really smart, sophisticated kids' music with other real musicians. NYC-based, he used to be the lead singer for the Del Fuegos. He does duets with Aimee Mann, Lou Reed, and a host of others. It is totally listenable and a great gift, too. Here are some of my daughter's favorite songs: "Sabotage" ? Beastie Boys, "No Aloha" ? The Breeders, "My Lady Story" ? Antony and the Johnsons, and "Star" ? The Roots, and most of all anything by Tricky. I made an Imix for you to enjoy. Go figure.
There is one last thing to share with you, my secret weapon of sorts: a seam ripper. My daughter cannot tolerate a tag in any of her shirts and my seam ripper has been my best friend for the last year as I busily remove tags from her clothes.