What to give the baby that has everything (including a song on the Billboard chart)? Not one to go handing out $7,000 pink Swarovski-crystal bathtubs to newborns like some aunties we could name, excellent gift-giver Oprah reportedly gave Blue Ivy Carter, Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s brand new baby girl, “a trunk full of children’s books” for the occasion of her birth. Exactly which books are contained within? We may never know. Since we try to follow Oprah’s lead in all parts of our lives, we got to thinking about what books we would give little Blue for a life as American royalty. With those genes she’s got, we basically expect her to immediately become a full-on child prodigy, so we haven’t limited ourselves to children’s books, but imagined a starter bookshelf that will have her discovering new things at least until high school. Click through to read our gift list for Blue Ivy, and let us know what books you might give the celebrity baby in the comments.
Special Topics in Calamity Physics , Marisha Pessl
Every girl likes to read novels starring characters who share their first name, and when your first name is Blue, those are going to be relatively far and few-between, so we figured this would be a winner. Not to mention that Pessl’s first novel is the coming-of-age story of a hyper-intelligent daughter of a itinerant professor — which may speak volumes to the genius-to-be child of famous, followed, touring parents.
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles , Patricia C. Wrede
Look, let’s not lie. Miss Blue Ivy Carter is the closest thing America has to a honest-to-goodness princess, and she’s about to be raised and treated as such. We can only give her these books and hope she turns out like the headstrong, smart-as-a-whip Princess Cimorene, who’d rather choose her own path — that is, study Latin and cook cherries jubilee for dragons — than take crochet and etiquette lessons.
Never Mind the Bollocks: Women Rewrite Rock , Amy Raphael
Since Mommy dearest is one of the biggest pop stars on the planet and Daddy is the Emperor of rap, we think Blue might rebel and go in another direction — ’90s grunge, perhaps? Such a move wouldn’t dampen her inbred appreciation for a powerful woman in rock, however, so just in case of that scenario, we’ll slip in this rock staple, chock full of monologue-style interviews with lady rock luminaries like Björk, Kim Gordon, Courtney Love, the Raincoats and Kristin Hersh.
Their Eyes Were Watching God , Zora Neale Hurston
Janie Crawford is without a doubt one of the fiercest, most powerful female characters in literary history — and while we have no doubt that Blue will grow up to be a fierce, powerful woman without any intervention, this book might just help her along.
David Copperfield , Charles Dickens
Aside from the fact that this book is a classic, called by Virginia Woolf “the most perfect of all the Dickens novels,” we think that it would be good for the inevitably silver-spooned Blue to read the great writer’s take on class and wealth, especially his thoughts on what those qualities actually mean for the virtue of the individual: that is, not much.
Beloved , Toni Morrison
We’d recommend this book to anyone, but we think the daughter of such a powerful woman would be especially fascinated by this harrowing, beautiful tale of family and force of will.
The Instructions , Adam Levin
Well, whether or not Blue grows up thinking she’s the messiah like this novel’s prepubescent protagonist (and she has a greater-than-average chance of that, we think), we fully expect her to be a serious child prodigy in a couple of years, so she may enjoy this enormous novel sooner rather than later. If not, she can just use it as a fashionable literary doorstop.
Goodnight, Moon , Margaret Wise Brown
We know, we know. But seriously, everyone needs this book. Plus, Blue needs to have something to talk about with the other, normal-er kids she might encounter in her lifetime.
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales , Jon Scieszka
We think baby Blue will be able to use some hilarious irreverence in her life. After all, if anyone will need a constant reminder that even our most dearly held tales can be poked fun at, it’ll be the child of two American legends.
The Rest is Noise: Listening to the 20th Century , Alex Ross
It’s a little hard to wrap our heads around, but to Blue, the 20th century will probably seem a ways away (by the time she’s old enough to think about it, at least). Since she’s going to be growing up in a musical family, where, um, she’s going to need to know certain things about the 20th century, why not arm her with this century-wide treatise by the New Yorker’s classical music critic? It even earned him a MacArthur genius grant, which we predict Blue will be receiving one day too.