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Let’s Get Started

As a first-time dad eagerly awaiting the arrival of my little one, I couldn’t wait to start building that early connection with my son even before he entered this world. One of the ways I found to do this was by reading to my baby in the womb.

It all started when I visited the local library, determined to build a story time routine for my unborn child. The librarian, intrigued by my coming in weekly to get a good book or two for my baby, asked me the age of the little one. “Well, he’s not born yet,” I proudly replied. She smiled knowingly and proceeded to guide me toward an awesome collection of children’s books perfect for prenatal reading. 

From that day on, I truly threw myself into a literary adventure, exploring a fun range of stories that I hoped would not only soothe and delight my son but also kickstart his journey towards language development and a lifelong love of reading.

In the quiet moments between work and other responsibilities, I would settle into our cozy sofa and read aloud, letting the rhythm of my words wash over my wife’s belly, imagining the way our little son was responding to these fun belly books. It was a great way to bond with both my wife and son…and now it’s your turn!

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Can A Baby In The Womb Hear?

One of the most fascinating aspects of reading to an unborn baby is the fact that they can actually hear and respond to the sounds around them, even from the confines of the womb. Starting around 18 weeks of pregnancy, a fetus begins to develop the ability to distinguish different sounds, including their parents’ voices.

By the time the third trimester rolls around, babies can even recognize familiar voices and music, and some have been known to move or kick in response to their mother’s or father’s reading.

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The Benefits of Reading to Your Unborn Baby

Beyond the sheer awesomeness of bonding with your child through the power of the written word, there are numerous benefits to reading to your baby while they’re still in utero. Here are just a few:

Enhanced Language Skills

By exposing your unborn child to the soothing rhythms of the varied vocabulary of books, you’re giving them a head start on language acquisition. Studies have shown that babies who are read to in the womb display stronger language skills and higher levels of word recognition after birth.

Improved Brain Development

The stimulation of hearing stories, nursery rhymes, and other literary content can actually help to strengthen the neural connections in your baby’s developing brain. This early exposure to language and narrative can contribute to enhanced cognitive abilities, memory, and overall brain development.

Reduced Maternal Stress

Reading aloud to your unborn child can have a calming effect, not just on the baby but on the mother as well. The act of slowing down, focusing on the story, and bonding with your little one can help to lower stress levels and promote a sense of relaxation and well-being.

Stronger Parent-Child Bond

This was my main reason for actively reading to my son nightly.  I did not miss a day! It was also the best way, in my opinion, to get close to him. Now, my son and I are inseparable.

The simple act of reading to your baby, even before they’re born, can help to establish a deep and lasting connection. This early interaction can lay the foundation for a secure attachment, fostering a lifelong relationship built on trust, understanding, and shared experiences.

Book Recommendations to Read to Your Unborn Baby

Book Recommendations to Read to Your Unborn Baby

With all these incredible benefits in mind, I set out to recall a collection of 21 must-read books for expectant parents to share with their unborn little ones. From timeless classics to modern favorites, this list has a wide range of stories, rhythms, and themes that are sure to be enjoyed by both you and your baby.

1. “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown

This beloved bedtime story, with its soothing, repetitive language and cozy illustrations, is a perfect choice for reading aloud to your unborn child.

2. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle

With its vibrant, textured illustrations and engaging, rhythmic text, this classic tale of transformation and growth is a wonderful way to introduce your unborn baby to the wonders of the natural world.

3. “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

The playful, alliterative language and dynamic illustrations of this book make it a delightful choice for reading aloud.

Cloud Bread Book to read to babies still in the womb by Baek Hee Na
image: patrick@patrick-cloutier

4.  “Cloud Bread” by Baek Hee Na

A super fun Korean picture book. It’s honestly one of the best books in my vast library at home. Whether you are new parents to a new baby or simply want to read to your little one while he or she is cozy inside the womb, let me tell you that this is my favorite book to suggest to you. This is the type of book to pass down from generation to generation… it’s that fun! 

5. “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney

This tender, heartwarming story about a parent’s boundless love for their child is the perfect choice for reading to your unborn baby. The lyrical language and gentle illustrations will help to foster a deep emotional connection between you and your little one.

6. “The Wonderful Things You Will Be” by Emily Winfield Martin

This beautifully written and illustrated book celebrates the boundless potential of children, encouraging them to dream big and embrace all that the future holds. Reading this aloud to your unborn baby will inspire a sense of wonder and excitement for the journey ahead.

7. “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak

This classic tale of imagination and adventure is a must-read for any unborn child. The vivid, dreamlike illustrations and captivating storytelling will spark your little one’s curiosity and creativity, even from the womb.

8. “Llama Llama Red Pajama” by Anna Dewdney

Who doesn’t like this one? Have you ever seen rapper Ludacris freestyle to this book? Priceless…The rhythmic, rhyming text and endearing characters of this book make it a delightful choice for reading to your unborn baby. The soothing, repetitive nature of the story will help to calm and soothe your little one.

9. “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss baby! No list of essential books for unborn babies would be complete without a Dr. Seuss classic.

The whimsical, imaginative world and playful language of this beloved tale will captivate your little one, laying the groundwork for a lifelong love of reading. Did you know that he had over 45 books published? Check them out!

10. “Corduroy” by Don Freeman

This heartwarming story of a teddy bear’s search for belonging is a timeless classic that will resonate with your unborn baby. The gentle, relatable narrative and charming illustrations will foster a sense of empathy and emotional connection.

11. “Giraffes Can’t Dance” by Giles Andreae

This uplifting story about embracing one’s unique talents and finding the courage to be different is a wonderful choice for reading to your unborn child. The rhythmic, rhyming text and vibrant illustrations will engage and delight your little one.

12. “Oxford Reading Tree” by Roderick Hunt and Alex Brychta

I’ve re-read these picture books countless times while my son was still in the womb and many times since he’s been born. The Oxford Reading Tree series is a beloved collection of educational books designed to teach children to read.

Featuring engaging characters like Biff, Chip, and Kipper, the series progresses through various levels, helping children develop essential literacy skills through colorful illustrations and captivating stories. This is a great series to invest in as your child will eventually get old enough to start reading them. 

13. “Stellaluna” by Janell Cannon

This beautifully written and illustrated tale of a young bat’s journey of self-discovery is a wonderful way to introduce your unborn child to the wonders of the natural world. The engaging narrative and relatable characters will foster a sense of empathy and understanding.

14. “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper

The timeless message of perseverance and determination in this classic story will inspire your unborn baby, even from the womb. The rhythmic, uplifting text and charming illustrations will keep your little one engaged and motivated.

15. “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein

This poignant, bittersweet tale of unconditional love and sacrifice is a powerful choice for reading to your unborn child. The lyrical language and thought-provoking themes will leave a lasting impression and spark meaningful discussions.

16. “Moo, Baa, La La La!” by Sandra Boynton

Boynton’s signature blend of humor, whimsy, and delightful illustrations make this book a perfect pick for reading aloud to your unborn baby. The playful, rhythmic text will captivate your little one and introduce them to the joys of language.

17. “Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site” by Sherri Duskey Rinker

This soothing tale of a construction crew winding down for the night is a wonderful choice for reading to your unborn child. The calming, repetitive language and charming illustrations will help to lull your little one into a peaceful slumber.

18. “The Going to Bed Book” by Sandra Boynton

Another Boynton classic, this gentle bedtime story with its rocking, hypnotic rhythm is a fantastic option for reading to your unborn baby. The simple, comforting narrative will help to create a sense of routine and security.

19. “Global Babies” by The Global Fund for Children

This beautifully photographed board book celebrates the diversity of babies around the world, offering your unborn child a glimpse into the richness of humanity. The empowering, inclusive message will foster a deep appreciation for cultural differences.

20. “How to Read a Book” by Kwame Alexander

This award-winning picture book, with its lyrical, poetic text and stunning illustrations, is a wonderful choice for reading to your unborn baby. The celebration of the joys of reading will inspire a lifelong love of books in your little one.

21. “Oh, Baby, the Places You’ll Go!” by Tish Rabe

This delightful adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss tale is the perfect way to introduce your unborn child to the boundless possibilities that lie ahead. The whimsical, rhyming text and vibrant illustrations will fill your little one with a sense of wonder and excitement.

Last Thoughts

All the info I put in here are all things I learned while trying to get pregnant.  As many of my readers know, I had my son a little later in life so I really wanted to play a crucial role and make fatherhood as awesome as I could. So, I started from the get-go! 

As I look back on the countless hours I spent reading to my son while he was still in the womb, I’m filled with a deep sense of gratitude and wonder. This might sound cheesy but the connection we built through reading all those baby books has been invaluable, and I know it’s a gift that will continue to enrich his life for years to come.

From expectant fathers to veteran moms, I encourage you to use the power of your local library for great resources and start building your unborn child’s literary foundation today. Whether you choose from this list or explore your own favorite books, the experience of reading any kind of stories to your baby will not only delight your little one but also strengthen the bond you share, laying the groundwork for a lifetime of learning and adventure.

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