Books & Babies: 10 Tips on Raising a Little Reader

Reading books to a baby may is one of the best ways you can spend this valuable first year together.

Here are 10 tips on raising little readers.

1. For 0-3m start with Books with Black and White contrast. Since your baby is born colorblind, Black and White books with simple bold patterns are more stimulating to newborns than colorful busy picture books.

2. Listen to classical music before reading together. Studies show that kids who listened to music before engaging in auditory exercises had much more brain stimulation. This is because listening to music is like doing warm ups before an exercise for your brain. If you read after breakfast, play classical music during breakfast time (while nursing, bottle feeding, or feeding solids).

3. Create a routine. Routines are very helpful for babies to anticipate activities and adjust themselves to this strange new world. The anticipation of “reading time” can help prevent fussiness or “the wiggles” because it’s a part of their daily rhythm.

4. Slip in Reading a book that YOU enjoy too. At this age, your baby cannot understand what you are reading so the storyline is not as important. Pick a book you love or have been wanting to read as a form of self care for yourself in addition to the development of your baby. (However still continue to also read children’s books; since they intentionally use alliteration, rhyming, and other sounds with baby’s first words in mind).

5. Be very expressive when you read. Use different voices for different characters, speak with emotion, make silly sounds and bring the book to life however you can. Your baby is learning the art of communication, such as what it means to speak in high and low tones, quick and short expressions, shrill and relaxed voices. You tone and “HOW” you say it is just as important as “WHAT” you say.

6. If your baby is too wiggly and does not want to sit on your lap during reading time, try rocking them in a rocking chair or allow them to play while you read. It’s better to enjoy reading together while they’re playing then get frustrated or give up reading altogether.

7. Writing & journaling is a great way to help process postpartum and ground your thoughts. One idea is to read your journal out loud to your baby. This can bring another element of healing and gratitude for you to process also. Because you are reading your own words it will be a very personal way to bond together.

8. Place books strategically. Always keep a book (or book case) next to your rocking chair, or by the crib so that it’s easier to remember to read during morning and evening routines.

9. If your baby wants rip apart your book or eat it as a snack, keep a teething toy handy alongside your book so that they have something safe to chew/ play with while you read to them. Perhaps invest in baby books that babies can safely play with & chew on without ripping the material. Water books are perfect- and waterproof so you can even enjoy them even during bath time!

10. Have a reading goal for yourself and your baby. The goal could be to read twice a day for 5 minutes or 5 baby books a day. It could be to finish 1 Chapter book a month. It could be to get through a list of books over the summer. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, as long as it helps encourage you to read together daily.

Bonding with your baby over a book is priceless. I hope you enjoy these tips and have a wonderful time reading together with your precious baby.

What are is your reading goal? What sort of tips help you stay consistent with reading with your littles?

The Ultimate List of Summer Camps around Orlando 2022

As a kid, summer vacation was a time where I got to truly explore and discover my personal strengths and interests. Now as a parent, this is an opportunity for me to support my child’s interests and find an environment where they can blossom and grow into the unique and incredible individual that they are. Here is a diverse list of summer camps all currently available around Central Florida: STEM, Music, Art, Reading, Gymnastics, Chocolate, and more! I hope you find the perfect environment for your little wonder from 2-18yrs old.

Looking for the overnight summer camp adventure like in the classic Parent Trap movie? Look no further, Camp Frontier is here to meet all of your faraway camp wishes. From water tubing to horse back riding, this camp has got it all! Must be 7 – 17yrs old. Find out more details on dates, cabin availability and pricing here: Camp Frontier Summer Camp

Have a little Ballerina at home? They would love this Russian Ballet Summer camp! For ages 4 – 9yrs old, this camp runs from May 30th – July 29th. It is $250 a week, Monday to Friday, from 9am-3pm and each week has a different theme from Frozen to Swan Lake to Mermaid theme, with a recital every Friday at 3pm. You can find out more information here: Russian Ballet Summer Camp or call 407.896.0309.

This is not your normal book club. Here at the Cheyne Ranch Literacy Equestrian Summer Camp kids will practice reading, crafting, art and more around the perfect audience to keep them at ease, farm animals! Horses, chickens, bunnies, goats are all great listeners and loads of fun to be around! Kids that feel nervous reading aloud in front of others can relax and take in all the wonderful benefits of reading & being outdoors in the fresh air. Tutoring courses, group classes and group book clubs all available at different rates. Find out more information here: Cheyne Ranch Summer Camps

Music has no age limit! At Kindermusik Music Camp, even infants are welcome! Kids 0-8yrs old have the opportunity to explore their musical side at their own pace. Various classes give a large range on location, age, specialty, and levels of difficulty so there is something for everyone! There are even virtual classes and bilingual classes available. Find out more here: Grow & Sing Music Classes

Got a hyper jock at home? They’ll love all the activities at Sports Tyme Summer camp. They’ll be so busy playing kickball, baseball, basketball, hockey, football, water slides, games & more that they’ll take a great nap when they get home. There are two age groups: JV, 5-8yrs old and Varsity, 9-13yrs old. With 20yrs of experience Sports Tyme does summer fun the right way- campers have a 15-1 players to coach ratio max. They only spend 30 minutes in the hot sun and then switch to indoor activities (like capture the flag) so that kids aren’t over heated. All coaches are CPR certified. There are 4 Locations available; Winter Springs, Deland, Heathrow & Jupiter. Prices, times, and additional information are specific to each location. The price range is $185-$200 a week, but you only pay for the weeks attended which you pick and choose (there are no day rates, strictly by week). Find out more here: SportsTyme Camps Info

Double Down Athletics located in Oviedo has Cheer camps, Sports Camps and Preschool Camps available in various sessions. Sports & Cheer are from 9-4pm, and Preschool camp is from 9-2pm. Prices vary ($115-$160) per camp with discounted rates for multiple children. For $5 early drop off & late pick up options are available. Click here for more info: Double Down Summer Camps

Camp Curiosity located in Oviedo and Winter Park is available to kids as young as 2yrs old-12yrs old and runs May 30th- August 12th, from 9-6:30pm with meals provided. You can find out more information here: Camp Curiosity

Who doesn’t love a day at the zoo? How about an entire Summer? Kids 5-17yrs old will have the amazing opportunity to be around real zoo animals at the Central Florida Zoo Summer Camp from 9am-4pm, 5 days a week from June to August. Pass Members will get a discounted rate. Find out more information here: Zoo Summer Camp

In this day & age, getting a head start in IT can only expand your options. Here at iD Tech, kids 7-18yrs old will have the extraordinary opportunity to study at Rollins College in Winter Park with IT professionals. With the code CAMPSAVINGS you can save $50 on enrollment. Hurry, spots are filling up quick! Find out more information here: iD Tech Rollins College Summer Camp

CHOCOLATE CAMP. That’s right, Peter Brooke Chocolatier will teach your kids all about chocolate in their 3 day Chocolate Summer Camp. Fun fact, I used to make and sell gorgeous chocolate truffles. It is a handy craft to be able to make your own chocolates and give them away as gifts (teacher appreciation, anniversary gifts, care packages, Valentine’s Day treats- when is chocolate a bad idea?) Located in Lake Mary this is a 3 day camp experience (Wed, Thurs, Fri), from 11:30-2:30am, for kids 6-12yrs old. They will learn the history and science of chocolate, as well as have the chance to make their own as well! $75 covers one day and includes lunch which is pizza, gelato & a drink ($225/ 3 days). I’m crying wishing I were 7yrs old writing this, because how FUN! Call to reserve a spot at 𝟰𝟬𝟳-𝟳𝟯𝟮-𝟰𝟬𝟵𝟯 or stop by @peterbrookelakemary more info. Peter Brooke Facebook Info

For the kid with the moves, Always In Motion Dance Camp & Summer Camp is for you! From 9am-4pm with free early drop off & late pick up this camp is for elementary age children and $190/ week from June 6th- July 22nd, Monday- Friday located at Avalon Elementary School in Orlando. Click here for more information: Always In Motion Summer Camp

Double R Camp Eagle has been in service for 50 years and is a camp classic. Located in Chuluota kids 2-12yrs old have 10 acre playground to run around, craft, play sports, do gymnastics & swim at the pool. Call 407-365-6856 for endless summer fun.

Orlando Metro Gymnastics Camp has full day (7:30am-6:00pm) and half day options available from 4yrs-17yrs old. Kids will rotate through a series of activities including but not limited to gymnastics. Field Trips are also available for additional fees! Find out more information here: Metro Gym Summer Camp

Taekwondo Orlando has some amazing Summer Camps for various age groups 4-12yrs old and levels of difficulty. 4 day camps from 9-1pm range from $165-$175 from June to July. Taekwondo is great form of exercise, useful for self defense, and loads of fun! Find out more about each camp through this link: Taekwondo Summer Camps

Did you know O2b Kids had Summer Camps too? Summer Camps run from May 30th to August 12th and very week is a different theme. From Safari to Super Heroes, your kids will always be discovering something new. Find out more information on their website here: O2b Kids Summer Camp

Orlando Science Center has some great STEM Summer Camps for Preschoolers – 9th graders! Science Center Members save $$$ on summer camp rates PLUS it is a great indoor air conditioned place to explore with your littles all year long! Click here for more details on various rates & dates for different age groups and camps: STEM Summer Camps Orlando Science Center

Crafting is an incredible way for kids to exercise their creativity, originality, finger dexterity, learn to follow instructions and express their imagination! Rustic Journeys located in Winter Springs will have a series of kid’s workshops for kids 8-15yrs old, Monday- Thursday 10:30am-12:30pm for $135. Find more information here: Rustic Journeys Kids Camp

Florida Film Academy Summer Camps located in Winter Garden will be perfect for your child interested in filmmaking & animation! Both Day & Sleep away options are available. These camps are Mon-Fri 9am-5pm for kids 7-18yrs old. Find out more here: Film Summer Camp

Mad Science located in the Oviedo Mall & West Oaks Mall in Ocoee is offering STEM Summer Camps with something for everyone, ages Pre-K to 9th grade from 10am-4pm. Various 4-5 day programs specializing in robotics, coding, chemistry, brixology & more! Find out more here: Mad Science Summer Camp

Hope you enjoyed this list of summer camps and make sure to share with your friends! Summer is a magical time for kids to learn so much about the world and themselves.

Have a happy & safe summer and don’t forget to subscribe for more summer fun events, activities, and parent hacks! -The Sunshine Mama

Vacation Bible Schools around Central Florida

I made a lot of fun childhood memories at Vacation Bible School growing up. Lots of silly songs, interesting activities, and friendships made within a friendly summer camp environment.

Here is a list of various VBSs (Vacation Bible Schools) around Central Florida categorized by city.

Oviedo, Florida

  • First United Methodist Church VBS June 20th-24th, 9am-noon, K-5th grade, $20 donation. Call 407-365-3255.
  • CrossLife Church VBS June 13th-17th, 9am-12pm, K-5th grade, FREE, register at: and call 407-365-3484 ext 148 for questions.
  • St. Luke’s Luthern Church VBS
    • June 6th- 10th, 9am-12pm, K-5th grade, $15, more info here: St Lukes VBS
    • June 13th- 17th, 9am-12pm, 6th-8th grade, $30, more info here: St Lukes VBS

Geneva, Florida

  • First Baptist Church of Geneva VBS, June 5th-9th, 6:00pm-8:00pm K-5th grade, FREE. Call 407-416-2622.

Longwood, Florida

  • Northland Church VBS, June 20th-24th, 6-8pm, 1st-8tth grade, $10, call 407-937-0541.
  • First Baptist Church of Longwood, July 25th-July 29th, 8:30am-12:30pm, K-5th grade, FREE, Calle 407-339-3817
  • First Baptist Sweetwater VBS July 25th-29th, 6:00-8:30pm, K-5thgrade, FREE. Call 407-862-3893.
  • One Church Markham Woods VBS, June 13th-17th, 9am-12pm, 3-11yrs old, Call 407-774-0777.

Altamonte Springs, Florida

  • Annunciation Catholic Church VBS June 13th-16th, 9am-12:30, K-6th grade. $50. Call: 407-869-9472.
  • Grace Church VBS June 6th-9th, 9am-12pm, PreK-5th grade, $20, Call 407-998-5050

Sanford, Florida

  • Lakeside United Methodist Church VBS, June 6th-10th, 9am-noon, 4yrs-4thgrade, $40, Call 407-330-6560.
  • Central Church VBS June 20th-25th, 3yrs-5th grade. Call: 407-322-2914
  • City Church VBS June 9th-11th (Thurs-Sat) 6pm-8:30, 5-11yrs old. Call: 407-321-9600.
  • Seminole Community Church VBS, July 18th-22nd, 9am-12:15pm, K-8th grade, Call 407-324-0199.
  • Spring Meadows Seventh Day Adventist VBS, June 6th-10th, 9am-12pm, PreK-6th grade, FREE, Call 407-327-1190.
  • Westview Baptist Church VBS, June 27th-July 1st, 6pm-8:30pm, 4yrs-5th grade, FREE, Call 407-323-0523.

Casselberry, Florida

  • Tuskawilla United Methodist Church VBS, June 27th-July 1st, 9am-12pm, 5-10yrs old, Call 407-699-8155.
  • Community United Methodist Church VBS June 13th-17th, 9am-12pm. Call 407-831-3777.

Winter Park, Florida

  • First United Methodist Church VBS, July 18th-22, 9am-12pm, 4yrs-5th grade, $25. Email: [email protected]
  • First Baptist Winter Park VBS, June 13th-17th, 9am-12pm, K-5th grade, Call 407-644-3061.

Maitland, Florida

  • Orangewood Church VBS June 20th-24th, 9am-12:00pm, email [email protected]
  • Maitland Presbyterian VBS, June 6th-10th, 9am-12pm, K-5th grade, $20, call 407-644-3455.

Winter Springs

  • Willow Creek Church VBS, July 18th-22nd, 8:30am-12pm, 4yrs-5th grade, $20, Call 407-699-8211.
  • Starlight Baptist Church VBS, June 13th-17th, 6pm-9:15pm, PreK-6gh grade. Call 407-692-5110.

Hope this list is helpful, and remember to sign up sooner than later! Spots fill up quickly so don’t put it off!