It’s never too early to read to your baby. That’s the message Sandwich teacher Susan Lupone Stonis and her co-author, Jacqueline Boyle of Gloucester, are sending to mothers- and fathers-to-be with the release of their first book, “Can’t Wait to Show You.”
Subtitled “A Celebration for Mothers-to-Be,” the book is the first title in the Belly Books Collection, durable board books made in the USA, expressly designed for the expectant mother to read to her baby in the womb.
“Can’t Wait to Show You” is the first published book for both Ms. Stonis and Ms. Boyle but the duo have several more manuscripts written and ready to illustrate and add to the Belly Books Collection, Ms. Stonis said.
The book and the collection were inspired by the wealth of recent scientific evidence showing the powerful effects of reading to babies in utero.
“The benefits of in utero reading for family bonding and the fostering of future literacy are profound,” said Ms. Stonis. “Establishing a regular story time routine even before birth allows parents to make an early connection with their baby while practicing the art of reading aloud.”
It has become clear that babies can already hear, recognize and remember elements of language in the third trimester of pregnancy. Perhaps the most exciting news for the mother-to-be is that her baby will have learned her unique voice by the time he or she born.
Research also shows that babies who are read a repetitive and rhythmic story before birth are actually soothed and calmed by the same story after birth. This immediate effect of in utero reading can be of huge emotional and practical value to new parents.
Ms. Stonis said that reactions to the book have ranged from surprise to intrigue. “People are eager to start sharing the book with their expected baby,” said Ms. Stonis “One of the reactions we hear most often is ‘What a perfect baby shower gift!’ ”
A distinctive feature of “Can’t Wait to Show You” is its unique belly curve shape, designed to rest comfortably over the baby bump. The father-to-be, whose voice may also be recognized by the baby in the womb, can snuggle close and share in the Belly Book experience. Once the baby is born, the familiar story, read by familiar voices, soothes and fascinates the newborn as the book now encircles him or her in a colorfully engaging experience.
The rhythms and rhymes, read aloud before and after birth, will become familiar to the baby and enhance his or her language development, laying the earliest foundation for literacy.
Upcoming titles in the Belly Books Collection will allow fathers, grandparents, and even siblings to bond with the expected baby.
Ms. Stonis and Ms. Boyle have been best friends since they were students together at Sandwich Junior-Senior High School. Avid readers and literacy champions, the two created and maintain a blog, “The Reading Womb,” which is the only comprehensive online resource for information on reading to babies before birth. Along with topical posts, it features links to news and research and an accompanying podcast.
Ms. Stonis and Ms. Boyle collaborated on both the story and the illustrations for “Can’t Wait to Show You.” “We didn’t really know we were illustrators until necessity inspired us,” said Ms. Stonis, “then we found we were an amazing team and each brought unique skills to the project. We had a lot of fun and are so proud of the results.”
“Can’t Wait to Show You” is available for sale at Titcomb’s Books in East Sandwich and through Amazon.com. Ms. Stonis and Ms. Boyle will be at Titcomb’s for a book signing on May 10. Prior to the signing they will give a talk titled “Reading to your Baby—It’s Never too Early!”