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Mums-to-be in Middlesbrough celebrate International Literacy Day 2016

08 Sep 2016

Bump selfie

Today is the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day, a UNESCO global celebration highlighting the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies around the world since 1966. 

Establishing routines which nurture the development of children’s literacy skills from the very beginning is important for giving children the best start in life. One of the ways we are raising awareness of this is through our National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough where we are working in partnership with South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Extra Life to encourage mums-to-be to read, talk and sing to their pregnancy bumps. 

Research from Harvard University Medical School shows the benefits of reading, talking and singing to babies before they are born. 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.

To celebrate International Literacy Day this year, we asked pregnant women in Middlesbrough to enter photographs of them or their families reading to their baby bump for a competition which we are running with Middlesbrough Council’s lovemiddlesbrough campaign. 

The winning picture will be published on the lovemiddlesbrough website today as their feature for International Literacy Day. Samantha Gomez-Lee, who is 35 weeks pregnant sent in a photo of her four year old daughter Amelia reading Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg to her bump.

Samantha says:
“This was Amelia’s favourite book when she was a baby and I used to read it to her whilst I was pregnant with her too. I find that reading stories and even singing songs to my bump really helps me and my family to bond with our unborn baby together.”

Allison Potter, Manager of the National Literacy Trust Hub in Middlesbrough
 “Families can start behaviours 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, which is why we’re encouraging Middlesbrough’s mums and dads to be to celebrate the joy of reading together as a family to make it become a lifetime habit!”

Susan Thompson, Bliss Family Centred Care Co-ordinator for the Northern Neonatal Network, based at The James Cook University Hospital,
“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.”

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