As the CEO of Reach Out and Read, I am always happy to talk to celebrities who support early childhood reading and can share helpful parenting tips.
Television actress and author Tia Mowry is a role model for parents across the nation. Millions watched her on the long running show Sister, Sister and in The Game, produced by entertainment mogul Kelsey Grammar.
Ms. Mowry currently stars with her sister in the hit show Tia and Tamera, which documents their journey as young wives and parents. The Tia and Tamera premiere was the most watched series premiere in the history of the Style Network.
With over one million Twitter followers, Tia Mowry is using her Hollywood power to help educate other moms. Her new book Oh Baby!: Pregnancy Advice from One Hot Mama to Another discusses her experiences as a new mother to son, Cree. I was honored to talk with Ms. Mowry about Oh Baby! and the joys of reading.
Earl: What inspired you to write Oh Baby!?
Tia: One of the reasons I decided to write this book was that I felt there was a lack of "mom friendly" books available. When I was pregnant, I was anxious and nervous -- the first thing you want to do is read about pregnancy so you can be aware and informed. Many of the books available are medically driven. They focused on the negative things that happened during pregnancy and I didn't want that to be my focus. So I said I need to write a book that's fun and informative at the same time... a book that comes from the perspective of talking with friends. I was actually talking to my girlfriends about my pregnancy and the things I shared surprised them.
Actress Tia Mowry (courtesy of D'Andre Michael Photography)
Earl: When you were growing up, did you have any reading traditions in your family or any special memories of reading together?
Tia: Our mother was very strict. Monday through Friday, we could only watch television three days per week. The other two days we had to entertain ourselves through reading or games. The books I enjoyed reading were interesting biographies about crime. To this day, I like to watch the First 48 Hours and Cold Case Files, and that all started when I was 15 or 16 reading books. I also remember reading The Baby Sitters Club. I really respect my mother for not allowing us to watch television all the time but requiring that we read as well.
Earl: That is awesome. Do you have any favorite books that you read to your son now?
Tia: One of my favorite books that I love to read with Cree is Green Eggs and Ham. I love the book because it reminds me of my childhood. I will never forget when I was in kindergarten in Hawaii. We had a teacher that would read the book to us. What was so magical was that she had also cooked green eggs and ham! She brought the food to class and it made the book come alive. I cannot wait to do that with my son.
Earl: I know your son's first birthday is just around the corner -- so Happy Birthday to Cree. Are there any traditions you hope to pass along to Cree?
Tia: One of the things I really enjoy doing with my son on a daily basis is just eating together. The French have a tradition of mothers eating with children. My mother always said, "Dinner time at the table was the time that everybody comes together and talks about the day." So I'm starting to do that now with Cree. He's in a high chair. I'm buying a new table so we can all just sit together and have a meal. I'm continuing the tradition.
The one thing I have learned about being a mom is that you give life to a child... but I think children also give life to you. I think it's reciprocal. My son has given me life. He has given me a new perspective on this world and the things I do. I feel like I have a purpose. Everything now has meaning.
Earl: I know Oh Baby! is your first book. Do you have aspirations for a future book or have you ever thought about doing a children's book?
Tia: I would love to write a children's book one day. I think I have a huge imagination. Also, my sister and I are working on a story. I am working with the same co-writer from Oh Baby. It's actually a novel. My sister and I are diving into it. We have the characters and the storyline. I really enjoy the process of writing. In college it was an area in which I excelled. I'd also love to do more mommy books and maybe a children's book one day.
Earl: That's awesome. Reach Out and Read, the organization that I lead, impacts 4 million parents through 28,000 pediatricians. From birth, our pediatricians provide new books at every well child visit and encourage parents to read with their children. Do you have a message for our 4 million parents?
Tia: I think reading is very important. It builds the mind to have an imagination. Your imagination in this world can take you far. I really do believe that. Studies show that reading is very important for growth. I enjoy reading books more so than watching a movie because when reading you make the choices. You put the characters in your own head. You figure out what they look like and how they sound. It's so magical. It's a journey.
Tia Mowry's book Oh Baby!: Pregnancy Tales and Advice from One Hot Mama to Another is available online and in bookstores. She can be seen weekly on the Tia and Tamera show on the Style Network.