Listen: Children’s author Shelly Unwin talks about the importance of reading to your baby with Katrina Roe on Hope Mornings
It’s never too early to start reading to your baby.
When you’re a new mum, it can be hard to know how to interact with your baby, but if you read together regularly, story time can become one of the most special times in the day.
Shelly Unwin is a children’s author, who has just written a beautiful picture book for babies called Hello Baby.
Shelly said her own parents read to her from a very young age.
“I was so lucky that my parents read to us from when we were babies and we always had books in the house, albeit, a very tiny white bookshelf that I remember on the hall,” she said.
“We went back to the same books again and again and again, whereas our children today are pretty spoilt with the choice and size of the bookshelf.”
Shelly also has fond memories of the library van visiting the small English village where she lived as a child.
“It was a highlight. I even remember the smell of the library van and how special it was to go in and get our books each week. So I was really lucky to have that.”
She said there is a huge amount of research that shows the importance of reading in early childhood to develop their vocabulary before they start school.
“All of that base learning is done at home through books. But there’s the benefit of bonding too, which I think is so important,” Shelly said.
“Days can be so frenetic, and then you feed them, give them a bath, sit down and snuggle together to enjoy a beautiful book.
“And when they’re babies, it doesn’t matter to them what you’re reading. You could be reading War and Peace. They just love listening to your voice. And if you’re enjoying what you’re reading then they know, and it’s that calming, soothing, before bed-time routine.
“If you’re enjoying what you’re reading then they know, and it’s that calming, soothing, before bed-time routine,” – children’s author Shelly Unwin
“One of the reasons I’ve written Hello Baby and what I love about it, is it actually makes you stop and capture those moments and slow down and think about the fact that this time is such a short space of time. You know it’s three minutes to read it, but three such important minutes of quiet and still and appreciating what’s there in your arms.”
Shelly also has some words of encouragement for parents of wriggly babies who find it hard to sit still.
“One of the main things is to let go of the idea that you need to read a book from start to finish for it to be a successful story time.
“One of the main things is to let go of the idea that you need to read a book from start to finish for it to be a successful story time,” – children’s author Shelly Unwin encouraging parents of wriggly babies
“When your baby suddenly discovers that they can turn the pages – congratulations! That’s a massive cognitive leap. Enjoy that they’ve learnt that.”
“This is about enjoying a book together, whatever that looks like. Even if you can just one relevant and important word out for each page, that’s brilliant in itself,” She said.
“If you end up doing three pages from 10 books because they keep slipping off your knee and going and grabbing the next one, they’re enjoying that engagement with books.
“It may not be what you traditionally think of as your story time, but it’s an amazing experience so just roll with it and enjoy it. It’s all good.”
Shelly’s new book, Hello, Baby, illustrated by Jedda Robaard is available now. Hear the full conversation in the player above or visit shellyunwin.com