Congratulations! A lucky soon-to-be-father!
Thanks so much for such a GREAT question.
When I was waiting for the birth of our twins, I didn't even think about reading aloud to them.
Admittedly, they were born 6 weeks prematurely. It was touch and go for our little pumpkin girl for around a month. Thankfully, she pulled through and came home.
One forgets about reading at times like that.
But, I wasn't thinking about reading to my kids anyway.
Two years passed. We weren't talking much. They couldn't, I didn't know what to say.
Like the Tin Woodman, I focused on searching for something intangible. Where was the heart of our relationship? I wasn't able to engage them properly - and I thought that this would set itself in several years. Mistake!
Dmitry, I had to change. I had to embrace children's books first.
So - before my answer - let me celebrate you first as a FANTASTIC (soon-to-be) dad!
You become a Read Aloud Dad the very moment you start reading to your kid.
And no, I will not leave my answer until the end of this letter.
Read aloud - from Day 1.
Let me surprise you. Reading aloud is as much about your kid as it is about you.
No, even that is not true.
In fact, it's more about you - don't forget it.
Kids always love listening to stories. It's our motivation as parents that falters.
Kids will show up for story time, parents often don't.
You will become an integral part of your daughter's identity. She will open her doors completely to your influence.
So while you walk into her heart ... make sure bring in all those children's books in with you.
Bring in trunks, chests, suitcases filled up to the brim with children's books.
I know you know this already, as you have written such a fabulous letter to me.
But as you are not a read aloud dad yet - my plea is please be a read aloud dad pioneer!
Become a dad that amazes the world. It is easier than it may seem.
Just read aloud - from Day 1.
Forget about "reading aloud" as a repetitive task.
Keep in mind that great actors often practice their trade for years before a breakthrough movie or play reveals them to our eyes.
Dmitry you will have to become Winnie The Pooh AND the Tin Woodman in the Wizard of Oz.
You, my friend, will have to be a convincing little Dorothy AND Shere Khan in the Jungle Book.
In children's books you will have to be anywhere. And your daughter will have to meet you there.
It is you - who will need the practice. And you will need to spend time seeking out those great books.
One thing that surprised me about my kids is that their personalities were formed as soon as they were born.
They have not changed. They are not "blank slabs" that need to be written on.
Yet, they were ready to be influenced from the very beginning.
What I am trying to say is - don't lose time.
Time is an ally.
If you haven't read it yet - I recommend that you read a copy of The Read-Aloud Handbook.
After you finish, start looking for exceptional books to add to your home and check where are the best libraries around your home.
Read aloud - from Day 1.
Your world will spin around when your darling girl is born.
Your existing daily obligations and timetables - will go through the window.
Nappies, crying, feeding, walks.
You will find out that reading aloud is the easiest victim. Don't be guilty of this crime.
Fit in 20 minutes at least. And make it interesting.
Dmitry you asked "What to read?"
I would make every read-aloud session a double pleasure. For your baby and for you as her parents.
First, read aloud board books with your baby - showing your beautiful daughter all the pictures and pointing to what is happening.
Don't worry if you feel funny in the beginning. Don't ever forget that your daughter's brain is soaking everything up.
She abhors solitude. She needs stimulation, attention and spending time with her parents.
Second, read aloud a great picture book or a chapter or two from a great children's chapter book.
Make it fun for your wife and you.
Enjoy yourself. Read great children's literature. There are thousands of great books. Laugh out loud!
Stop reading at cliff-hangers. Come back tomorrow. Keep yourself interested.
Don't stick to a couple of favorite books. Read classics, read new gems.
Get familiar with them. After you finish, make mental lists of good books and their difficulty level.
Your baby needs to hear your voice. Your nuances. Your words. Your pronunciation. Your fun.
Your baby will absorb it all.
Start a streak ... don't stop ... break a record.
Read a series. Read 10,000 pages.
Read 1000 days. Read to your charming daughter and her cousins.
Record your story times and upload on a private/public Youtube channel.
Start a blog. Volunteer to read in a local library. Tell everyone what you are doing.
Go crazy - invent your own challenge. Become a Read Aloud Ninja.
Let children's books carry you away. When they do - you will succeed completely.
Then turn around and crouch down.
Put your hands on her shoulders and look carefully.
I promise you will see every page reflected in your daughter's beautiful eyes.
Read Aloud Dad
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