Every time I step into a bookstore with my son, we both seek our respective corners to pick our read and dive into it. Many times, I end up picking my set quickly and see my 4.5 year old engrossed into the vivid colors and texts of the books. Moments like this give me so much joy and contentment. Much to my dismay, I have also seen people rolling their eyes at me when I pick a large bundle of books for Ayaansh or even have heard comments like, “Why are you bombarding him with so much books?”
But ask my son and he will tell you a different tale for sure! We both are book fanatics and given a choice between books and other things, we tend to choose BOOKS! And we both believe that ‘more is less’ when it is BOOKS!
So how does one become a reader? The straight answer would be: ‘You choose a genre, grab the bestselling and read.’ But it takes much more continuous effort and time to be a voracious reader. You need to raise them as a reader right from the womb. Yes, you heard me right!
Reading begins from womb and lasts forever!
So, let me introduce you all to the topics of my blogposts that will talk about Raising Reader Kids from the womb till forever. In this series, I will be covering up topics like:
- Reading begins at womb!
- The first year of bookish joy!
- A toddler’s journey of reading books (2-4 years).
- Fiction & Non-Fiction Books.
- Our favorite Indian authors and publications.
- Blending books & activities.
- Weave a story!
- Usborne Publishing – a paradise for readers!
With this, let me begin the first topic of the series:
Reading Begins at Womb!
Pregnancy is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful phases a women experiences in her life. For many women, especially during her first pregnancy, there is an equal amount of anxiety and stress. Reading books aloud to your foetus not only calms the nerves but also helps her to bond with the life within.
When I was pregnant with Ayaansh, I was often told by my mom & my OB-Gyn to talk and bond with the little bumpie. Honestly, as a first time mom, I found it to be a little bizarre to just have that one-way communication. Now, books were my only solace. I used to read a few books repetitively to him. While, the texts were mostly spiritual or consisted of shlokas, I found myself having that inner-peace and silently bonding with my baby. Fortunately, Ayaansh turned out to be an inquisitive and curious reader as I was during my childhood.
So, this time when I am pregnant with my second child, I knew the importance of reading and talking to your womb from the beginning and didn’t waste a second. While the first trimester was hard, Ayaansh was my constant support in talking with the baby. He read a few books himself, spoke to the baby about our day, created his own stories and narrated facts for the unborn child. That is when I realized how important it is to be well-read and communicative.
So here are some of the reasons why you should be talking to your bumps and help them discover the reader in them. I shall also be sharing few tips and some of my favorite books to be read aloud to your foetus and nurture them with magic of books.
THE SCIENCE SAYS:
- At around 18 weeks of pregnancy, our little babies begin to hear the sounds of our body like our heartbeats and our tummies rumbling.
- This further amplifies at week 26, when the baby can actually listen to our surroundings and begins to recognize his/her mother’s voice. The scientific research also suggests that the language acquisition begins at this time.
- But the actual language absorption begins during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy. It is during this stage when the parents or siblings should talk or read maximum to the baby.
- Studies have also proved that a foetus who has been introduced to multiple languages in the womb, immediately recognizes the difference between their mother tongue and foreign languages in just few hours after they are born.
- Studies show that, the earlier the baby is exposed to reading, the more they will enjoy it and the better they will perform in school.
- Will you believe if I say, our little geniuses from the womb identify the vowel sounds of our native language right from 32nd week? Isn’t this marvelous?
As parents, we all want our children to be healthy, intelligent and active, isn’t it so? I can’t stop emphasizing how reading books when in womb helps them to grow into their better selves. Here are the three ways, our little angels learn when in womb.
- By experiences: Infants recognize the familiar voices and music they heard while in the womb. These voices soothe them after they are born. There has been an evidence where a mom was used to reading Dr. Seuss’s book to her baby in belly in a particular tone. Minutes after the child was born, when the mother read the same book in the particular tone, the baby calmed himself and gave her the most beautiful smile. Isn’t this enough reason why you should pick one right now?
- By repetition: Infants love rhythms, repetitions and rhymes. So pick a book that has rhythms or repetitive words and maybe make your own music for the poems or rhymes you read to your bumpie.
- By association: Your baby may learn to connect certain experiences to the way you are feeling at the time. For instance, if you read a particular book to calm yourself (like reading spiritual ones which calms me down) when pregnant, babies associate the same books with a sense of calmness too.
Babies and their little brains are so interesting, right? So, let me share the tips on how to read to your foetus and its benefits for you and your little one.
- Setting up a routine: I usually read a book to my bump before I take a nap in the afternoon and before going to bed. Ayaansh joins me in this by talking to his ‘Babylou’ (that’s what we call our little bud). I have observed that my baby is most active during this time. Going ahead, I am pretty sure that sticking to this ritual will enable us to calm and enjoy ourselves.
- Developing the sense of touch: Just place your hand on the womb or gently rub your tummy and read. This develops baby’s sense of touch and listening, thereby setting up a platform to multitask.
- Reading relaxes mom-to-be and the baby: While you read to your womb, your stress levels go down and you tend to relax and so does the baby. This causes the fetal heart rate to stabilize, and the baby draws solace from the mother’s voice.
- Voice Modulation: While we read to our children, it is very important to modulate our voice and emote the feelings in the book. Our foetus grasp the sound, tone, emotions and depth of the voice and actually helps babies develop listening skills earlier in life. Also a consistent and regular read will help babies develop attention span while in the womb.
- Ask Questions and be rewarded later: We now know that reading to our womb promotes closeness between us and the child, but it is also imperative that we take a pause ask a question while we read and then continue our story. For example, imagine you are reading about an apple tree. Read few lines and take a pause to ask questions like, “Do you know what color is the apple?” OR “Mumma enjoys eating apples and so do you. So, do you know how does apple taste?” Answer them too. You can repeat this pattern even after they are breastfeeding or start their solids. This way of reading makes them attentive and inquisitive.
- Descriptive Reading: I shall again give you an example of an apple tree. While you read about it, describe in detail how the tree looks: the vivid shades of the colors, the pointy branches or the curved leaves, the juicy apples, etc. This way, you are fostering imagination to your child right from the very beginning.
Now, even though few of you might not be a voracious reader, I hope the above tips help you nurture your little one’s right from the womb. And if you are already a mother, it’s never too late to start reading yourself or for your child. Reading books is that joy which multiplies a thousand fold when shared with others. Grab a book and sit down with your child and simply read. OR wait for my posts in this series where I shall be sharing more details.
And now, it’s time for some book recommendations for prego-mommies like me. The below mentioned book are what I enjoy reading to my ‘Babylou‘ in the womb and I sincerely hope that you would enjoy too:
- Pregnancy Books or Journals:
These books guide us, moms-to-be, on how to stay positive during this phase, our dietary requirements, how to develop and nurture our foetuses, exercises, baby’s early years, postpartum care, etc.
- Ayurvedic Garbha Sanskar by Dr. Shri Balaji Tambe is all about having a balanced and healthy pregnancy.
- Virtue Story Book by Dr. Nitika Sobti talks about 40 virtue-stories that parents-to-be can read aloud to their foetus.
- The Wonder Years by Dr. Martin Ward Platt is an essential guide to child development from 0 months till 5 years.
- How to Raise a Healthy Child by Magna Publications is a guide from conception till child development.
- Your Child can think like a genius is a book that provides various activities, quizzes, etc. for parents to raise a genius child
2. Books based on Personalities: Being an ardent fan of Bhagat Singh and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, I love reading about them to Ayaansh and for my Babylou. Reading about such iconic freedom fighters would instill values like courage, discipline and patriotism in my baby. And women iconic figures like Audrey Hepburn and Maria Montessori can never be ignored for the philanthropic and compassionate nature.
Choose your favorite icons and read about them to your child. It will instill the qualities and the very characteristics you read. Remember Abhimanyu from Mahabharata who heard all about Chakravyuh while in mother’s womb? If you don’t know the story, its time to move to my 3rd category of books!
3. Epics & Fables: Ramayana in Rhyme is our favorite Indian epic book. Ayaansh loves listening to them and almost can recite the most of Ramayana. This book is crisp, has a rhyming pattern and can be easily put into a tune for the womb-baby!
I also love to read the moral-value stories from Hitopadesh, Panchatantra and Aesop’s Fables to both my 4.5 year old and my Babylou!
4. Dr. Seuss! makes reading fun!: Definitely this is one of my favorite children’s author, who still charms me into the magical world. Oh, The Places You’ll Go and Horton Hears a Who! are my eternal favorites. These books are an absolute delight and you must read it!
5. Classics: The category name says it all! Reading stories from this ever eternal books authored by Giles Andreae, Julia Donaldson, Roald Dahl, Eric Carle are a must. Their stories are fun to read with great illustrations and have a learning at the end. Curious George is yet again one of my favorite reads of all time!
6. Books that talk about Love: Re-affirming that you love your little ones brings them so much happiness and comfort. Books that talk about love and being happy brings joy to you and your little ones. I read this book ‘No Matter What’ for Ayaansh telling him that my love for him and the foetus will be impartial and equal. So, choose your favorites and if you are pregnant with your second/third, these category of books are a must read!
7. For Ayaansh & Babylou: Ayaansh has been supportive of my pregnancy and is looking forward for his Baby Sister/Brother. So the books like ‘How Big is our Baby?’ and ‘Baby On Board’ helps him to understand the growth and development of our little bun. While I read this to Ayaansh, he prefers to read them to his Babylou, explaining the child about his/her growth. Reading such books helps both my babies to bond even before they see each other.
I am sure there are many other books out there, that are yet to be explored or read by us. Trust me given a chance we would just plunge into the ocean of books and never come out! Because, for us reading is not just an activity but, a different experience that takes us into a different world and allows us to get past behind every doors without holding us back.
Okay, I get it! Maybe, it’s too much for today? So wait for my next blogpost that would talk about introducing books to your newborn, how to read them and raise them as a reader.
I hope you have loved reading this post, so please share your comments about this post below and feel free to share it in your social media or friends and expectant moms. Together, let us all raise reader kids!
All my posts under this series can be found in social media by using #themummastartupwrites and #themummastartupblogs
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