I've always had a passion for books. For three years I worked at a bookstore and got an employee discount. That was dangerous! I'd often spend half my paycheck there. (That was before I bought my house, when I still had a disposable income.) Even before that I had been picking up hardcovers at book sales for years. I finally had to get a bookcase to store them all. I still have most of my books displayed on shelves in my living room. My most prized ones are autographed copies of Clive Barker and Anne Rice books (I stood in line for book signings when they were in the area, back in my "goth" days) as well as an autographed cover by Mel Odom (I love his beautiful distinctive illustrations of women. His work graces many of the book covers on my shelves. I met him at a Barbie store back when I was collecting dolls. He also designed a beautiful doll named "Gene" who has the same haunting eyes as the women in his paintings. I have a few of them along with my Barbie collection.) Anyway, I'm getting off topic! The point is, I love books! I love the escapism of reading them (when I have the time, not often these days!) I love the books themselves, the cover art, everything about them. A friend told me I'd have to get rid of the books before Michelle is crawling or she'd be pulling them off the shelves and destroying them. I have more faith in her than that and I'm not getting rid of my books! I hope she leaves them alone. After all, she has her own books which are much more colourful and eye-catching.
My love of books may have started before I was born. My mother told me that while pregnant with me she didn't have food cravings but had a strong craving for reading. She doesn't like to read and other than the newspaper, usually avoids it altogether but while pregnant with me she had the urge. So she read the entire Bible cover to cover out loud! She didn't have any novels to read and I guess she thought it would be a nice gesture (being a Catholic and all) to read the "good book." She believes that it was feeding my brain while I was in utero and that it helped me to do so well in school (I was a straight A student through university, B.A. Specialist in English, Major in Drama, Minor in Art History). I always did have a love for words. I was a master at spelling bees. I always loved writing. I remember one year in high school English when we were studying poetry. Our teacher gave us an assignment to write 10 poems -- one for each category, including haiku, free verse, sonnet, etc. Everyone in the class groaned. I grinned from ear to ear. It was like Christmas to me. The best homework EVER! Writing poetry was one of my favourite hobbies. I'd written hundreds, if not thousands since I was a kid. I wound up writing two poems for each category. My teacher was impressed. Years ago I had sent some of my poems to publishers and was thrilled to have a few of them accepted into literary journals (The Queen's Quarterly, Dalhousie Review and Green's Magazine.) When I learned to play guitar years later, songs came flooding out. I would put together a simple chord progression and once I had the tune, the words would just flow. Songs are just poems set to music. Writing poetry is like breathing to me. Most of my songs were written in under 15 minutes. To date I have written close to 1,000 songs (hundreds of which are posted on Youtube if you want to check out my channel -- there's a link on the right side of this page if you scroll down.)
I'm grateful to my Mom for reading to me, especially since it's something she didn't enjoy. It would be like a mother eating pickles because the baby wanted them, even though she hated them herself. I really do think there's something to the idea that reading while pregnant can be good for your baby. I know that the baby can hear her mother's voice. She may not understand the words but I still think that on some level it may prepare her for language. She may learn by osmosis. She may pick up on the patterns and rhythms of speech. Being fed with words may start the brain working to recognize speech and make it easier for her to talk later on. It's a theory. It can't hurt to try it. So needless to say I read to my baby as well while I was pregnant. And did a lot of singing too. I felt a bond with her even before she was born. She seemed to react to the sound of my voice. I would feel her moving and it was like we were communicating, even then.
Now I read to Michelle every day. Our storytime doesn't last too long. I stop once she seems to get frustrated. At just under 3 months old her attention span is only so long. Whether it's books or her swing or whatever it is, she may be entertained for a while but then it's time to move on to something else. Sometimes she lasts as long as half an hour. Other times it's only ten minutes. I have a selection of board books and bath books with short, simple stories so it doesn't take long to get through a few of them anyway. She can't understand them yet of course, but she does show interest. She's even started grabbing the books, touching the pages and she makes little sounds as I'm reading. As though she's trying to read too. I hope she loves books as much as I do. I thought it was a good sign that she would hold books herself and look at the pictures. (Here she's looking at her mermaid bath book.)