Thursday, June 24, 2010

30 days of 29, day 7: Reading to Espen

I'm a bit behind on my updates, because it's the weekend. And it has been such a great weekend so far with a real live date with a baby sitter and dinner-and-a-movie last night, and lots of relaxing and the World Cup and a wedding today.

And and and!

I will get caught up, and soon, but not tonight, because the weekend is still not over, and I'm still enjoying myself too much to spend a lot of time with my computer.

But before I frolic off into the summer night, let me tell you about Thursday, when I read to Espen.

As this is something we've already been doing on a pretty non-regular basis, I thought I would look into some of the benefits of reading to your baby, both for the benefit of this project, and as an incentive to do this more regularly with Espen.

I already knew that reading to your children from an early age was a good idea, but while reading up (ha!) for this project helped me realize some benefits that I hadn't thought too much about.

For example, did you know:

  • Even newborns will study your speech patterns and learn how to make sounds while listening to your voice reading.
  • Being close to you and listening to your voice feels safe and cozy, which helps babies recognize reading as something pleasurable to do.
  • Bright colours and high contrast images in picture books help stimulate young babies' vision.
  • Books should be accessible to your children at all ages, so when they enjoy putting everything in their mouth (Hello Espen!), make sure they have books that can stand up to that.
  • Babies enjoy pattern, repetition and predictability, so older babies will love it when they can recognize and predict where their favourite story is going. Younger babies will enjoy the familiarity of listening to your voice and turning and looking at the pages.
  • With younger babies it's less about the book as a story, than it is about the book as an object, so allow them (and yourself) to explore the book in all kinds of ways.

A few good reading resources, where I found much of my information for this post: Reading Rocket, Scholastic, PBS and Grow Up Reading. I especially liked this Scholastic article.

Now, over to me and Espen.

With a few trial and error attempts, I found that a good way to read to him is to have us both lie down on our backs on the floor, and hold the book up above us. That way Espen can comfortably look at the pictures and kick his legs in excitement without me having to juggle him and the book at the same time.

We tried a few different books. First Winter Lullaby, which I love for its beautiful illustrations. It usually holds Espen's attention pretty well, but of course, on the day I had chosen to be "Read to Espen" day, he was just the squirmiest kid alive. Oh well. Another one of his "favourites" (as determined by me!) includes Baby Faces, which just shows a lot of different babies looking happy, sad, puzzles, tired, etc. Espen will almost always look at the pictures with great interest and shout at the baby hiding in the basket. It's pretty cute.

Another one of our discoveries is that timing is key. While reading before bed seems cozy and lovely in theory, our reading day taught us that postponing bed time so you can finish the story, does not help the infant attention span. Similarly, reading doesn't necessarily have to happen in the Reading Chair at Reading Time. I've found that keeping a simple board book like Baby Faces by his changing table is nice because it allows us to work in a quick read between other activities. And it's a good way to distract Espen from the traumas of just having had his onesie changed.

My goodness, I have a lot to say on this topic! But that is only because I think that reading is so important. Testify! Now go read to a baby!

This project was suggested by the lovely Barb, whose job I envy daily.

Image borrowed here.


  1. we are kindred spirits! sort of- i think reading is VERY important- and not to boast but i read the white queen by philippa gergory- all 450ish pages in 5 hours yesterday- can espen beat me!? mwahhhh.

  2. Dylan so loves that i read to him .. you see it inn the eyes when they look at you waiting to turn to the next page of the book..

    :-) It is a good way to calm them down to before it is nighty nighty...

  3. Madsta: I already knew we were kindred spirits :) 450 pages in one day? I wish I had that kind of attention span, let alone Espen!

    Wendy: There is nothing snugglier than a book and a baby.

  4. We don't have any of our own children yet and still my mind is always thinking about the books that I should already own. It's almost like a panic! I need more books now! I don't have enough. I don't have baby proof books. How am I ever going to be prepared when the baby finally arrives? Ah the stress of not

  5. Hey Tamsin -

    You don't know me, I'm one of your Blog Stalkers :) I found your blog through Stepper. I don't think I have ever commented so I thought I would since this post is right up my alley. I love, love, love books! I had three full bookshelves of children's books, one of them all board books, before I even had a baby! Baby #1 just arrived 9 weeks ago and I have already started reading with him. I just thought I would let you know some of our favorite books (most of which can be found in board book form).
    Each Peach Pear Plum
    It Looked Like Spilt Milk
    Freight Train
    Goodnight Gorilla
    Sheep in a Jeep
    Sheep in a Shop
    There's a Wocket in My Pocket
    Dear Zoo
    Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb
    Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?
    We're Going on a Bear Hunt (the version by Michael Rosen)
    Big Red Barn

    Happy reading! -Lara

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  7. Yay for reading to babies!!!!!