Mums-to-be and their partners are being encouraged to read, talk and sing to their pregnancy bumps to celebrate International Literacy Day.
Pregnant women are being encouraged to enter selfies or photographs of them or their partners reading to their baby bump into a competition run by the National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough in partnership with Middlesbrough Council’s lovemiddlesbrough campaign. The winning pictures will be published by www.lovemiddlesbrough.com on International Literacy Day, Thursday 8 September. Parents who submit a photograph, along with the title of their favourite book to read to their unborn baby, could win book tokens.
The read to your bump initiative is supporting the partnership between South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Extra Life and the National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough to promote the benefits of reading, talking and singing to babies before they are born. Research shows that a developing baby can hear sounds from the outside world and understand them well enough to remember them after birth, revealing that language learning begins in the womb. Soothing speech and reading to a bump is also a calming activity which promotes bonding between parents and their baby.
Book recommendations from parents across Middlesbrough will be featured on the Middlesbrough Reading Campaign’s website www.turningpages.co.uk which provides tips and resources for parents to support their child’s literacy development.
Allison Potter, Manager of the National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough said: “Families can start routines which help support a child’s literacy development right from the beginning. The benefits of chatting, singing lullabies or rhymes and reading or telling stories to a baby bump are long-lasting and it’s a great way of getting dads involved too.
“All these activities are fun ways for parents to interact with their unborn baby and helps them feel more connected with them. Hearing the rhythm and sounds of speech can help give babies a foundation for learning language, so we’re encouraging Middlesbrough’s mums and dads to be to celebrate the joy of reading together as a family and making it become a lifetime habit!”
Middlesbrough mum of two and lifestyle journalist, Mieka Smiles said: “We have always made a conscious decision to read to our children – and on occasion even before they were born! My husband Christopher and I found that reading stories and even singing songs to my bump helped us to bond with our unborn baby together.
“Now, the kids look forward to a story before bedtime each night and it is a part of their evening routine that we never dare to miss.
“I feel that given the amount of technology that’s now available to children – by way of the television and tablets – making sure they are developing their vocabulary and imaginations through reading has never been more important.
“I loved escaping to different worlds as a child through reading, and I hope that’s something my children will also carry with them.”
Susan Thompson, Bliss Family Centred Care Co-ordinator for the Northern Neonatal Network, based at The James Cook University Hospital, said: “We’re proud of our work alongside the National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough to encourage parents to read to their babies during pregnancy and beyond.
“This is so important as it not only assists with children’s early years cognitive and language development, but also allows mothers and the rest of the family to bond with their future new addition.”
The National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough is working in partnership with Middlesbrough Council and other local partners including Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation, James Cook University Hospital and Crossing the Tees Festival to extend the reach of literacy support in the area and raise awareness of the importance of literacy skills through the Middlesbrough Reading Campaign.
To enter the competition please email jpeg photographs or ‘selfies’ of mums or their partners reading to their baby bump along with the title of what their favourite book to read together is firstname.lastname@example.org.The closing date for entries is Monday 5 September 2016.