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When to Start Reading

When to Start Reading

   Even before I was pregnant, I knew that reading to my future child was as important to successful parenting as assuring that he or she ate a variety of healthy foods. But when exactly was I supposed to start reading? Was there a right way to do it? Was there really a benefit to reading to my unborn child, or was this just some “new agey” idea?

    I found out I was pregnant in January of 2009, and very soon after, my unborn child began listening to the Harry Potter series. I had never read the books (or seen the movies because apparently I was residing under a rock for the better part of the 2000s), but my husband was a huge fan. He was also facing a potential military deployment and was worried about missing the birth and first few months of bonding with our child. He thought that by reading to my belly, Baby Squirt would recognize his voice and they would have a connection. It felt silly at first, crawling into bed at the end of the day and having my stomach be the primary audience to the tale of the boy who lived under the stairs. However, it became one of the most relaxing parts of my day, and is one of the memories I share regularly with my son when we cuddle up at night to read a good story now.

    It turns out that the hubby was right (how often do we wives actually say that?) His prenatal reading may have helped increase his parental feelings/bond and also allowed us to begin a reading habit. Mamta Patel, PhD. writes that by the seventh month of pregnancy, a "baby can hear and respond to familiar voices." In addition, many studies have shown engaging kids with books from day one gives those kids a leg up for later learning; listening to stories exposes them to more words and word sounds, thus improving their vocabulary and communication skills well before starting school. Books also help children learn about themes and concepts they might not otherwise encounter.

    If your family already has a reading habit, keep up the great work! Your child is well on the path to becoming a successful reader and reaping all the benefits that come with that title. But have no fear if you’ve been too busy changing diapers and prepping bottles to tackle this task. I encourage you to find a few minutes today, pick up a favorite book or magazine, and begin reading with your little one. Stayed tuned to storieChild, because in the coming weeks we will be talking more about what to read and how to make the experience even more fun and effective.

    When did you start reading to your kids? Any tips? I would love to hear your thoughts at kara@storiechild.com.

World Storytelling Day

World Storytelling Day

    March 20 is World Storytelling Day, an annual celebration designed to recognize the art of storytelling. Its roots date back to Sweden in the the early 1990’s. The theme for 2016 is Strong Women. I immediately thought about Mrs. W, an exception teacher who helped me appreciate the importance of sharing our individual stories.

    In 8th grade, filled with hormones and on the cusp of the angry teenage years, it wasn’t cool to like school or teachers, especially not ones that had a reputation for being mean. While I had always loved to read and create stories, Language Arts was a constant struggle as I was a terrible speller and the rules of grammar often made no sense to my brain. The teacher, Mrs. W. was hard on her students, but was also one of the strongest examples in my life that successful teachers care more about who they teach than what they teach.

    One of our major assignments that year was to write an autobiography. At 13, I didn’t think I had many meaningful things to write about, and couldn’t figure out why anyone would care about my life. Mrs. W. tried to explain that everyone has a story and that each experience, no matter how trivial it seems in the moment, shapes who we become. I begrudgingly completed the assignment and my mom held on to it for me, knowing one day I’d need to be reminded of how far I’ve come. (Right now it's in my keepsake box, something I reread when I want a good laugh, and something concrete my son can hold later to learn more about his family and the start of his own story).

   Towards the end of the school year, I was nominated for an award to be given out at middle school graduation. The selection process required each nominee to write and give a speech in front of several faculty and staff members. I was terrified, unsure of what to say, and especially hesitant to be in competition with my friends, so I decided to skip the speeches and let the award go to someone else.  

   The day of the event, when Mrs. W. learned that I was not planning to present, she pulled me out of another class and gave me a firm talking to about not giving up before I truly began. While talking about myself seemed unnatural and egotistical, she reminded me that our individual, unique stories matter. The opportunity to reflect on where we come from, realize how far we’ve come, and share those lessons with others is a gift. And then she made me call my parents to come watch the speeches after school. I sat in her classroom the rest of the day, writing the story about what made me special and why I deserved an award.

   That day, she stood up for me and taught me that my story--all of our stories--have worth. And this is a lesson I continue to embrace.

    While it hasn’t always been pretty or so formal, I have been sharing my story ever since. Who is a strong woman that has played a critical role in your story? I’d love for you to share with me at Kara@storiechild.com

Take a Deep Breath and Read--Guest Post from Caitelen

She curls up next to me with a pile of picture books and half-whispers to herself:

“Take a deep breath, and read.”

Simple words, not intended as a command. Yet, from the lips of that babe, what my heart needed to hear was this call:

Take a breath, Mama. But don’t just breathe. Breathe deeply.

Slow down and dive into a luxurious tale with a toddler.

Enter into the wonder she experiences in narrative.

And then….leave some of those dishes in the sink and go read something that gets you out of your own head. Read something that challenges and inspires you.

Stop outputting for 5 minutes and recharge.

Fill the well! 

Drink deeply of His Word.

You NEED it like you need air.


Why is it that my daughter wants the same story read to her again and again? She knows almost every line by heart.

Because, simply hearing the story once isn’t knowing it. And even “knowing” it by heart isn’t enough. She wants to experience it again and again. She wants to participate in the drama of the narrative, feel the anticipation climbing from page to page toward the end. There’s a kind of security in the repetition of it. A kind of strength in consistency that brings about calm and knowing. And, in the really good stories, the ending leaves her with both a sense of completion, yet wonder at what’s beyond those final pages.

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