Community members gathered Thursday morning at the Eiseley branch library to kick off a new program created by a Lincoln East sophomore to foster a reading routine between caregivers and their newborn baby.
Through Books for Babies, all babies born at Lincoln hospitals will receive a free, developmentally appropriate board book.
Along with the book, caregivers will receive an informational pamphlet that they can take to any Lincoln library to receive another free book for their newborn.
Ellie Hiser, a sophomore at Lincoln East, realized the importance of reading to children when her mother volunteered as a court-appointed special advocate in Iowa.
“The families she worked with often had young children, but never had books in their homes,” Hiser said.
Last summer, she began working to bring her idea to fruition by contacting Bryan Health. From there, they partnered with CHI St. Elizabeth and Lincoln City Libraries.
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The program is funded by donations from hospitals, a grant from the Community Health Endowment and private contributions.
Marilyn Moore, vice president of the Community Health Endowment, said that while it may seem silly to read to a newborn, language and vocabulary growth begins at birth.
“The first two years are probably the most important cognitive development and emotional development in a young child’s life,” Moore said.
The program will include a wide variety of books written in English, Spanish and Arabic, according to Pat Leach, director of Lincoln City Libraries.
The City of Lincoln Libraries wants to ensure caregivers from all walks of life can read to their newborns by acquiring more books in other languages in the future, Leach said.
“It looks different for every family and for every child in the family, so we want to make sure people can make it their own,” Leach said.
For more information about the program, visit lincolnlibraries.org and select the “Kids and Teens” tab.
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