Why reading Matters! The Little Readers Read-a-thon

Let’s take a look at why reading to baby is important

Reading to your baby every day supports their development not only in the NICU, but also going into early infancy and childhood. We know that regular reading is linked to improved language and writing abilities at school age, and that baby’s enjoy hearing their parent’s voice over any other sound.

But what’s more important is that it is an activity in the neonatal unit that parents can do every day for their baby during a time where many parents feel helpless in an intense and stressful environment. This was the driving motivation for the development of the Little Reader’s Read-a-thon, it is a way for parents to provide a type of support to their baby that only a parent can – reading with their voice which is all too familiar to their baby.

It doesn’t really matter what you read to baby, but what is important is that they’re hearing your voice. You may like to read a book from your childhood, or find a picture book and tell your own story. You can start a novel, or read a newspaper article. If you’re able to, hold your baby during story time stop and show them the pictures. Signs that your baby may be becoming tired or overwhelmed include looking away, yawning, restlessness or crying. If your baby displays these signs, pause the story for another time and settle your baby for sleep.  

For baby’s too unwell for cuddles, or if they are sedated, you can still read to them every day and your baby will benefit from hearing your voice.

How you can get involved

In mid-July head to the Life’s Little Treasures website to register your NICU or Special Care Nursery and a starter pack will be sent out to you with everything you’ll need to get started. Don’t forget to share with the neonatal community how you’re participating in the Little Reader’s Read-a-thon by tagging us using the #littlereadersreadathon #readingmatters #nurturingthebrain #makingadifferencetogether #lifeslittletreasuresfoundation #NIDCAPAustralia

When is the read-a-thon and what should we be doing?

Commencing 2 September through to 13 September, this initiative is aimed at empowering parents in the NICU to read to their baby every day. Throughout the read-a-thon be sure to record the time spent reading and the number of books read using the log provided as there will be prizes for each of these categories, kindly donated by Walker Books. 

Literature to support reading infancy

Article Author and Project Lead: Alyssa Fraser, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Grace Centre for Newborn Intensive Care