Dear readers, we can’t help noticing the search terms that bring so many of you to The Reading Womb. The question most asked by far is some variation of, “What should I read to my baby in the womb?” We’re thrilled to see that reading to babies prenatally has become a mainstream practice among expectant parents! And clearly, families are thirsting for more information.
So in response to your requests, here’s another roundup of books and authors perfectly suited to reading to your baby before birth.
If you’ve been following our blog and podcast, you know that the research says that the best stories for reading to your baby before birth are those that are rhythmic, rhyming, and repetitive. We know that preborn babies respond best to this type of auditory stimulation, and studies deﬁnitively prove that these kinds of stories are the best remembered and have the most soothing effect on newborns. The following list includes fun rhyming stories that you and your baby will enjoy before and after she’s born.
Author Bill Martin, Jr. and iconic illustrator Eric Carle have collaborated to create a much-loved collection of rhyming books whose simple text and engaging illustrations will capture the attention of babies and adults alike. There are three titles with a similar catchy chorus repeated throughout each book, just perfect for in utero reading: Polar Bear Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what do you hear?
I hear a lion roaring in my ear!
Lion, Lion what do you hear?
I hear a hippopotamus snorting in my ear!
Another favorite, also written by Bill Martin, Jr., is a rollicking and playful interpretation of the childhood chant, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
A told B and B told C,
“I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree!” . . .
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!
Will there be enough room?
Prolific author and illustrator Sandra Boynton has created many enjoyable rhyming books for young children. Her whimsical text and lovable characters create a fun reading experience for baby and grownups alike. From the popular Moo, Baa, La La La: “A cow says Moo. A sheep says Baa. Three singing pigs say La La La!”
Boynton’s Tickle Time is bound to become a family favorite. Listen: “If you’re feeling blue and you don’t know what to do, there’s nothing like a tickle time to make you feel like new.”
Mem Fox has a way with words, and she’s created many books that should be at the center of your in utero reading experience. Her Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, The Magic Hat, and A Giraffe in the Bath are favorites that all have the rhyme, rhythm, and repetition that your baby will remember and grow to love.
A giraffe in the bath—does that make you laugh? Or a frog in the flour? Or a sheep in the shower? An owl with the flu? Or a roo on the loo? A crocodile with style—does that make you smile?
Annie Kubler specializes in bringing popular rhymes to life with her charming and colorful illustrations. Everyone knows the words to If You’re Happy and You Know It, I’m a Little Teapot and Pat-a-Cake, but with her sweet babies and bright palette Ms. Kubler has given the traditional children’s rhymes new life.
And if you are a parent who has benefited from the beautiful and bonding experience of reading to your baby before birth, we’d love to hear your story! Please send your stories, photos or videos and we’ll include them on on our blog to inspire other expectant parents to read to their child in the womb! From everything we’ve heard, these little ones turn out to be pretty special—early talkers who want to read everything they can get their hands on. But we’re not surprised. We at the Reading Womb have long known that it’s never too early to read to your baby!