- Next Mr Zuckerberg committed himself to taking two months of paternity leave. Again I cheered and shook my head in wonder at the contrast. I gave birth to my second child just weeks after Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer had her first. As we all know she was back in the office ten seconds after the event and I spent my maternity leave being chased by co-workers.
- Then they posted the reading photo. I think it may be the most powerful message of the lot, underpinned as it is by Mr Zuckerberg’s commitment to literacy through his Facebook book club, A Year of Books.
Which got me to remembering how I brought my two day old daughter home and sat down to read to her as soon as we walked in the door. I’m sure it sounds nuts and completely over the top. At the time I think it was a way of doing something that I was confident I could. (After all, I read every day of my life, right?)
I was not quite so confident about the feeding, changing, bathing stuff and kept on reminding myself of one of my work colleague’s pearls of wisdom dispensed as I walked out of the office on my last pre-maternity leave day. “If you don’t kill her in the first week, you’ll be ok.”
But there was more – of course there was more. Together with all the other (often unwanted) prescriptions (often from complete strangers) about routine, breastfeeding, sleeping and generally being a completely clueless first-time mother, I had – naturally – researched all the things I should do to ensure positive academic outcomes in the future.
In a world that has Google it is not difficult to find reams of information, some useful and some not. But one thing was clear on the reading front – it’s a good thing to do with your baby, even when they’re tiny.
In a definitive article, “Literacy promotion: An essential Component of Primary Care Pediatric Practice”, the American Academy of Pediatrics summed it up perfectly. (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/06/19/peds.2014-1384)
In a nutshell, regular reading with young children results in the ideal patterns of brain development AND is good for building parent-child relationships. In turn the combination of these two things shape “language, literacy and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime”.
But even knowing all this, I had to keep reminding myself that the key reason I was reading to my babies was that I wanted to have a place where we were doing something that we loved together. It is so easy as a new mother to get caught up in all the things “I should do” that it is very easy to forget to breathe and to enjoy these precious baby moments.
Happily, reading to your baby is a way to do something positive towards developing your child’s future and having fun together at the same time – even when you feel rather daft when that baby is just hours or days old.
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