by Kathryn Brown Ramsperger
Do you love to read and want your child to fall in love with books, too? Do you want them to get the academic and emotional benefits literature offers?
Here are some tips that you can start now, while you’ve still got your baby in your tummy, which will help instill a love of reading, greater empathy for others, and better bonding with you, their one and only mommy:
Start reading to them early.Babies can hear us as early as the early second trimester. At first they hear the tone and cadence of your voice, which promotes bonding, a voice they’ll carry with them always. Yet babies also learn in the womb by the last trimester. Reading to your belly will not only make them long for books once they’re born, they’ll make you two closer to each other.
- Don’t worry about what you read to your belly. They love your voice. Read to reduce your own stress after a long day, and they’ll respond likewise. They hear vowels first, so rhyming books are best early on. Soon, they’ll be begging for you to read those books and others.
- Ask for books for your baby shower.As a writer, I always bring books to baby showers, one of my childhood favorites, and one of my own books that my own 20-somethings drew illustrations for when they were little. You can request that your shower guests bring their favorite children’s book, either as an additional gift, or the only one. I mean, who needs one more mint green organic onesie?
- Incorporate books or book themes in the nursery. Make sure there’s a bookshelf in their room filled with books. You’ll need a place to put all your shower, gifts, right? Plus, if your bookshelf is DIY, it will be something they’ll treasure forever, if you keep copies of their favorite books within its shelves. Primary colors and a favorite saying from a book you read each night, or their initials, will attract even the most sporty toddler. Make sure your bookcase has one empty shelf for them to eventually choose their own books.
- Read them books that echo their experience and perspective. My daughter is adopted. My son had to have surgery at 10 months. The books I chose for my daughter were completely different than those I chose for my son. My son loved Dr. Seuss‘ “Mr. Brown Can Moo“ and Sendak’s “Where The Wild Things Are“, and a Sesame Street book about a hospital stay. My daughter’s two favorites were Eileen Spinelli‘s “When Mama Comes Home Tonight” and Rose Lewis‘ “ I Love You Like Crazy Cakes”, a book about adoption.
- Read them a bedtime story every night. Consistency is key to help them learn language and reading skills, and what better way to say “sweet dreams” than some parent-child together time? Be happy if they make you read it over and over. That means they love being with you and that they’re learning words and a love of reading, too.
Bonus Tip: After you finish reading their bedtime story and kiss them tonight, pick up one for yourself. Children notice what you do even more than what you say. If you have a book in your hand as much as you check your Twitter feed, they’ll notice and will probably follow suit. My novel, The Shores of Our Souls, published by TouchPoint Press, is available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, ibooks.com, and kobo.com, or ask for it at a bookstore near you.
Kathy is a mom, novelist, blogger, life coach, and contributor to yourtango.com, yahoo.com/parenting, and thoughtcatalog.com about relationships and family matters. She believes books can change your life and change the world, one page at a time. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.