From the womb to the world beyond

Reading is wonderful — and important — at all stages of life.

By Ashley Grandberry 

I want you to imagine you are in a room entirely alone. It’s a pleasant day with an ideal room temperature. Now let’s eliminate the outside noise — and imagine a soothing voice reading your favorite childhood story to you. 

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Well, imagine how soothing that would be for a developing fetus inside a mother’s womb. 

During the gestational period, the mother’s voice is the most powerful sound a baby hears. In fact, it’s more than merely pleasant: Experts claim it’s beneficial.

Fadiyla Dopwell, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, suggests that reading to the baby will benefit the baby’s language development. 

“Reading to an unborn baby provides an additional form of language stimulation that is more structured,” she says. “Daily reading with an unborn baby will also help in further developing a secure parent/child attachment.” 

At, Dr. Dopwell documents her expertise in Tiffany Eve Lawrence’ article, “Reading to Your Baby During Pregnancy is Worth the Book Club with Your Belly Button.” Lawrence points out that reading in the womb can give babies a jumpstart on critical thinking and word recognition — two benefits of lifelong consistent reading. 

Even before one is born, reading is beneficial for development and provides a proven way to bond with a parent. 

As a reading and literacy specialist, I must tell you the advantages of reading don’t begin and end in the womb. Similar advantages continue throughout life.  

Many people simply enjoy reading to escape the realities of life. There’s research to support its advantages.  The United Kingdom’s National Literacy Trust highlights the benefits of reading for pleasure: reading attainment and writing ability, text comprehension and grammar, positive reading attitudes, achievement and reading self-confidence. 

The world is full of possibilities and opportunities for a person with such skills. Reading for pleasure influences achievement, increases general knowledge, promotes understanding of other cultures, encourages community participation and provides greater insight into human nature and decision-making. 

In fact, reading gives everyone the ability to explore anything. If you’re interested in other languages, you can learn from reading about those languages.  If you want to research a new destination, reading opens the door to the ceremonies and customs of a country. Reading even creates a sense of community. Gamers read about gaming, travelers read about traveling and knitters read about knitting. How great is it to be able to unite over a subject that you love simply by reading about it? 

Reading is the gateway to unlimited education. And education is the great equalizer. As an educator, I know that it creates a playing field that’s as equal as one could hope for. In the world of education, a voracious reader has more hope of escape from economic disadvantages and other such circumstances. 

Being an avid reader gave me the opportunity to earn a top-notch education and become an educator, where I’ve served as a reading and literacy expert. With reading, the possibilities are pleasantly endless — from the womb to the world beyond. 

Ashley Grandberry’s recommended books list:

Great titles to read while pregnant: I Am Enough by Grace Byers; Whoever Heard of a Flying Bird by David Cunliffe; The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin.

Great titles to read to small children: Brown Baby Lullaby by Tameka Fryer; Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang; Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney.

Great titles for young adult literature: Night by Elie Wiesel; Genesis Begins Again by Alicia Williams; The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Great adult reading:
Born A Crime by Trevor Noah; Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia; Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Ashley Grandberry has more than 10 years of experience in K-12 literacy in and out of the classroom. She has developed teachers, built content leaders and written curricula. She is a literacy advisor for the Achievement School District in Memphis, Tennessee, United States.

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