Call me an over-eager mum, but I love reading to my baby. I have done since she was about four days old. Maybe it’s because I had a bedtime story every night as a child, maybe it’s because I still love to read now. Or maybe it’s just that I like the sound of my own voice and having a baby is the perfect excuse to talk to someone who can’t tell me to shut up.
The poor girl never had a chance. Coming from a family of English teachers, Librarians, Journalists and Drama teachers, it’s fair to say Literature is in her genes (although we won’t count her computer game addict father whose idea of a good book is the autobiography of Chopper Reid, the famous Australian vigilante. Google him. Seriously scary).
From the day we brought Frog home from the hospital we decided to include a bedtime story as part of her night routine. Admittedly, at a week old she was very rude and slept through the whole thing, but I carried on with the stories, because I enjoyed finding out what happened at the end for myself.
I didn’t have the foggiest idea that reading to a baby is good for them, I just guessed it couldn’t be bad. But the research shows I’m not as stupid as I may have thought, because reading to a baby does have its benefits. Studies have shown that language skills are related to how many words an infant hears each day. In one study, children whose parents spoke to them a lot scored higher on standard tests when they reached age 3, compared to those whose mums and dads weren’t so verbal. And you can’t deny it, reading is a good way of talking to your baby, if general chit chat makes you feel like a bit of a plum.
But not all babies and children get read to, even if they would probably rather like it. We take access to books for granted, although with looming closures of many libraries maybe we shouldn’t. But, while we have to contend with library closures, in many parts of the world, some children have not even seen a book, let alone a library. It’s World Book Day on 3rd March and Book Aid International hopes to change this, in sub-Saharan Africa at least. If you have a minute, check out their blog and watch the video. If you question the power of books and reading, this may clear a few things up.
At nearly eight months, Frog now reaches for the pictures in her storybooks. She loves the sparkly fish in Little Fish Goes Exploring and laughs out loud when we read Dear Zoo. Her bedtime story has been the same one for the last five months, Bedtime with Humphrey, and now she won’t go to sleep without it. It’s a good way for her Dad and Grandparents to bond with her too, although I’m starting to detect a hint of boredom from her Dad when Humphrey comes out again, given away by his renaming of “Humphrey” to “Humphreyfina” (this is from the man who said he wanted to call his daughter Geoffafine because he likes the name Geoffrey so much).
Regardless of the ad-libbing, we will continue to read to Frog until she tells us to shut up, which I hope won’t be for a while yet. At least not until we’ve got to The Very Hungry Caterpillar. And Doctor Dog. And The Secret Garden. Oh, and Harry Potter. And The Gruffalo. And George’s Marvellous Medicine. And don’t forget The BFG. And Giraffe’s Can’t Dance. And Peace At Last.. And…………………………..