Margaret Wild and Hannah Sommerville – Reading to Baby

Affirm Press, Australia, 2024
Cover and internal design by Hannah Janzen

In Reading to Baby, author and illustrator have created a beautiful gentle book, a testament to family and to the power of reading.

Margaret Wild talks to Barbie about Reading to Baby

The birth of baby Dora causes great excitement in her family. Her four brothers are all keen to be part of her life and each chooses the way he knows best to be a good sibling. Alex chooses to cuddle, Liam to rock her to sleep, Bruno to amuse her and Peter to read to her.

As she grows older, the boys continue to express their love for her in the way that best suits their personalities – in activity, games, creative play and reading.

This is a simple story but one full of meaning. Through both Margaret Wild’s clear text and Hannah Sommerville’s warm illustrations we see the world of the child as it slowly expands. In particular, when Peter reads to Dora, a whole world of imagination opens up, creating farmyards, fairylands, underwater magic and places of wild fantasy.

The power of story to inspire reading and the inverse are both important here. The indefinable mystery of the written word, especially when shared, is at the heart of this charming story.

Children will enjoy the pictures which draw on their own knowledge of stories and the things they are interested in, the things they imagine and wish they could experience. Adults will equally enjoy the sense of family unity portrayed in this book – each member of Dora’s family has a respected role and is allowed to be him and herself.

The pairing of Margaret Wild and Hannah Sommerville was an inspired move by publisher Affirm. It has created a work of art and an articulate reminder that books and stories are important from the very beginning of our children’s lives and continue to be so if we tend all that they offer.

Thank you to Affirm Press for my review copy and to Margaret for speaking with me about the joy and the importance of reading.