“When I was pregnant with Jasper, who is now 3, my two older kids were just so curious to know everything about the new baby,” said Chelsea Clinton. “Charlotte and Aidan just kept asking so many questions.”
Their questions — everything from when the baby would arrive to how it would eat, sleep, and poop — stayed with her (no matter how many times she tried patiently to answer them). As a writer whose work spans global health to biographies for children, Clinton knew what had to come next: “When things just rattle around in my brain and heart for long enough, I ultimately just decide that I should write a book!”
The result is “Welcome to the Big Kids Club: What Every Older Sibling Needs to Know” (Philomel), a picture book illustrated by Tania de Regil. It’s aimed at little kids soon to be joined by an even smaller new family member. Clinton knows the idea can take some getting used to.
“I definitely spent a lot of time and energy talking to Charlotte and Aidan about being a big sister and big brother, and how exciting that is, and also that there’s responsibility that comes with being an older sibling,” she said. In the book, children watch as babies are fed and burped, diapered and put to sleep. They ask questions, referring to their new sibling as “my baby,” wording Clinton borrowed from her daughter, Charlotte.
The book’s language is simple, age-appropriate, and inclusive — as are the illustrations. “That was important to me from the beginning of this project,” said Clinton. “We know that children develop in different ways and at different rates. I didn’t want to ever convey or even imply that there’s one schedule or one right way that babies develop and grow.”
Clinton loved writing as a child — so much that she adored homework. “I loved getting permission to write,” she said, “a book report or a science report or something creative. I loved writing not only stories but also little plays that I would try to recruit my friends to be part of — I had varying degrees of success with that!”
Chelsea Clinton will read in person at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at An Unlikely Story in Plainville. Tickets available online.
Kate Tuttle, a freelance writer and critic, can be reached at email@example.com.