Starting Baby Out Early: Local Libraries Collaborate With FirstHealth on Reading Program
New parents have so much to consider in the months leading up to and those just after their child's birth.
Will the baby be healthy? Is breast-feeding or bottle-feeding more beneficial? Will we ever get a full night's sleep again?
Now there's one more thing to add to the list: early literacy. Researchers have found that a child actually starts becoming a reader from the day he or she is born. The more children hear caregivers or family members talking, laughing, reading, or singing, the more rapidly their vocabulary will develop.
With everything new parents have to worry about, the Moore Great Beginnings program, created by FirstHealth Home Care, may be just what the doctor ordered.
Moore Great Beginnings is a newborn visitation program designed to help new parents with questions about their child's physical health and well-being, including developmental needs. Funded by Smart Start through the Partners for Children and Families, this program also offers referrals to other community resources when needed.
One of those community resources is MCAL (Moore County Area Libraries). Formed in 2006, MCAL is made up of library representatives from Southern Pines Public Library, Moore County Library, Given Memorial Library, The O'Neal School's McMurray Library, Katharine L. Boyd Library of Sandhills Community College, Moore County Schools Media, and FirstHealth Health Sciences Library.
With early literacy in mind, MCAL felt new parents needed information about the libraries of Moore County and the services they provide.
Saerica Hamilton, early childhood outreach library associate at Southern Pines Public Library, put together a brochure with information about each library and an invitation for parents and babies to visit. After being approved by MCAL, copies of the brochure were provided to the Moore Great Beginnings home visitation nurse, Sheri Thomas.
New parents in Moore County who bring the MCAL brochure to their favorite library will receive a prize. At Southern Pines Public Library it was decided that the prize would be, naturally, a book. The Sandhills Rotary Club and its president, Lloyd Navarro, agreed to purchase board books for the newborns.
"Reading books to children is a powerful way of introducing them to literacy," says Library Director Lynn Thompson. "Yet, it's also a chance for parents to interact with their children in a warm and positive manner."
Parents have already begun to come into the library to collect a prize and to find out more about what the library has to offer.
Angela Ball, along with her daughter, Lillian, Marie Rolland and daughter, Madison, and Kim Morgan with daughter, Sienna, came in and received free books. Each infant was also signed up for her first library card. Boy babies are also welcome, as Jennifer Casper and her son Raymond found out.
"We want parents to know that it is never too early to read to children," Hamilton says, "and that the library is the very best place to start!"
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