When my first daughter was born, I heard a lot of views about reading to very young babies. Some people said read to them from birth, some said start a structured story time from about six months and some said kids don't gain anything from stories until they are older and can understand a storyline.
Whether these views are right, wrong or completely bonkers is up to every parent to decide for themselves, but I thought I would share with you my experience of reading to my first born child and how things changed when baby number two came along.
So, let's rewind three years. I have one beautiful baby daughter. I'm a super keen new mum. I read all the mum books, scan the blogs and listen to bucket loads of advice. I have the luxury of time, and I want my precious first born to experience everything. So from the tender age of five months, I introduce stories to the bedtime routine.
Each night I read three books while I struggle to get my little wriggler to sit still and listen. Each night I wonder why I am bothering since she clearly is not paying attention. But I persist.
Fast forward about a year, and something amazing happens. Story time becomes treasured. My daughter carries books to bed and sits quietly on my lap while I diligently read three books to her every night. Yeh! Success! My daughter finally loves story time!
Fast forward another year or so, and baby daughter two is born. By this time, first born daughter will not sleep without her nightly stories. She remembers some of the words and loves to listen to the voices I do for different characters. I'm thinking I'm the best mum ever at this point.
But fast forward a teeny bit more to five months into daughter number two's life. I know I should start story time for her, but the girls have different bedtimes, and I'm just too tired to do two story times at night (and they just never seem to happen during our busy days). So I read for daughter number one, but not for daughter number two. It can wait, right? She won't pay attention anyway. I'll just wait until she's older.
And that's what I do. I wait another six months before I introduce story time for daughter two, thinking it is a better age to start. But was I right?
NO, I WAS NOT!
Daughter number two won't sit still. She walks away halfway through stories. She's not interested.
I persist, and—fast forwarding to today—I'm STILL persisting. Daughter number two is now 17 months old, about the age when daughter number one started paying attention to books. But daughter number two seems to be no where near ready to sit down and enjoy story time.
So what have I learnt from all this?
I am no baby expert, and I know there are a million reasons why daughter number two is not yet interested in structured story time, but...
If I was given a do-over, I would absolutely start daily story time with daughter number two earlier than I did. Since reading to kids can in no way harm them, I say why not start early, and maybe your kids will acquire a taste for stories sooner rather than later (like broccoli!).