Amidst a sea of bustling children, adorable little ones in strollers and Ergo carriers, and mamas-to-be looking radiant and curious, Julia and I set up a table at the Good Beginnings First Annual Baby and Child Expo to talk with parents about reading to their children from the get-go.

Good Beginnings of Central Vermont is an organization focused on providing education and support to families with new babies. Both through home visits from trained volunteers, seminars, and discussion groups, Good Beginnings provides a helping hand for new moms and dads, a listening ear, education, early literacy awareness, and even supplies to families in need. This year they hosted their First Annual Baby and Child Expo with fantastic results.

Throughout the day, Julia and I had the opportunity to speak with moms and dads, grandmothers, children, and educators about the importance of reading from birth – if not before! Many folks we met told us with delight about how much their infants or toddlers devour books and love reading together. We were pleased to hear that so many attendees not only understood how imperative it is to engage children in this activity but also clearly enjoyed that time with their sons and daughters.

We met a few people who admitted they were unaware of the necessity to read to their children before they were able to talk. With those folks, we shared why it is indeed critical to do so with the message that it’s a time to bond, to enjoy stories together, and that it does not need to be academic but, rather, fun! To all who visited us, we passed along a brochure with tips on reading to your little one – and on how to make story time fun for everyone involved – as well as suggested books for reading to children ages birth to two and ages three to five.  Some lucky little ones even got to take home a new book.

The day was full of activities and presentations, like a babywearing fashion show, performances by local folk singers, daddy donut-eating contests, and baby crawling olympics. Though the mood was silly and festive, our message was a critical one, and we were overjoyed to find that the attendees were receptive to what we had to say.

Many moms, dads, teachers, and grandparents signed up for our newsletter. As promised to all of those folks, we entered everyone into a drawing to win three brand-new board books. And I’m pleased to announce that our winner is…drum roll please…Beth Preus of Orange, Vermont! Congratulations, Beth! I will be contacting you directly for more information.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to talk with us about who we are and what we do. And thank you to the Good Beginnings crew for putting on such a stellar event. We are already looking forward to next year!

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