Reading to your child while still in the womb is either encouraged or scoffed at. I believe it is a worthy practice from a speech therapist's point of view and a mother's experience. The cadence of a voice reading has it's own unique rise and fall.Hearing the rhythm and rhyme in a story lays critical ground work for later language development.. The rate of reading is slower and more measured than the typical speed of speech and consequently received in an important way.
Changes in volume can be both subtle and significant depending on the story. Emotion comes through whether relating a cheerful story or a sleepy bedtime tale. Now the new life curled inside may seem to know little of these things and yet can recognize these changes in pitch, tone, speed and volume. There are studies out there (which I should be referencing but it is late and I am tired) that can confirm changes in the fetal respiratory, muscular and circulatory systems when being read to.
I really observed the effect when my own daughter was born as she readily stopped, looked and listened in a very natural way when a story began from the earliest moments after her birth. Her language skills advanced extremely quickly being my little speech and language experiment and I felt proud of her early accomplishments as she beat milestone after milestone.
Other studies show precocious youngsters usually even out in these talents with their peers by second or third grade and this followed suit with my daughter. I never intended to get caught up in what appeared to be a gifted learner but at times I found myself imagining the full scholarship award ceremony and our first visit to an Ivy League school.
So in retrospect I believe reading to my womb had a positive impact on my daughter's language development and continues to this day with her true love of reading and learning. It is a great way to lay a foundation for learning and should be a pleasurable experience for its own sake. Stay in the moment as much as possible and know that too much emphasis on future plans can steal golden moments right in front of you.
To those that see reading to a fetus as a laughable concept I say try it and you may be amazed what a wonderful way it can be to unwind. Reading a children's story in a slow, soft way, the duties of the day float away and there you are with a cat in a hat or three little pigs. Better still create daily reading habits before the birth and you are sure to keep this nighttime ritual for many treasured years. Both you and your child will have sweeter dreams to share together and piles of stories to plan for the future.