It’s never too early to read to your child.
That’s the idea behind Henderson Libraries’ new program — “Born to Read” — that’s being rolled out this month at Henderson Hospital. Each newborn will receive a children’s book and library card.
Library officials say 80 percent of brain development happens before a child turns 3. And studies show if children hear more words earlier on, there’s a positive effect on their language skills.
Henderson Libraries plans to make 3,300 kits — enough to last about 19 months. About 200 babies are born each month at Henderson Hospital.
Two weeks ago, the library system — which has four branches — delivered the first 100 kits to the hospital.
Marlene Hughett, volunteer coordinator at Henderson Hospital, said March 5 that she didn’t know if any kits had been distributed yet.
The Born to Read program is funded by the library. It costs $2.38 to buy each book and $2.76 to put together each kit.
The idea for Born to Read was a result of Henderson Libraries’ new strategic plan, which was rolled out in February 2019.
“One of the things that we came up with is that we wanted to have some funding for innovative programs,” said Marcie Smedley, executive director of Henderson Libraries.
Teams of library employees submitted proposals. Nicole Thomas, youth services senior specialist at Gibson Library, and her team suggested creating a Born to Read program.
Thomas said parents often ask her how old their child has to be to get a library card. The answer: There’s no minimum age requirement.
Beyond promoting early literacy, a goal behind the Born to Read program is to expose more people — including those who aren’t normally library users — to library services.
Henderson Libraries plans to track how many people use their child’s Born to Read library card after receiving it at the hospital.
The library system already has a “birth to five” website that includes a calendar of library events geared toward children from infants to age 5. Its “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” initiative helps families track how many books they’ve read together, and there are incentives for children.
Born to Read kit
The Born to Read kit will be given to families as part of a welcome packet while they’re in a postpartum room at Henderson Hospital, Hughett said.
It includes the book “Welcome Baby,” which is rip- and tear-proof, allowing babies to touch it and even put it in their mouths. It’s part of the Indestructibles book series.
There’s a bookmark inside with suggestions of activities parents can do with their baby and a wraparound paper around the book with information about library services. And each baby gets a library card.
Henderson Hospital’s volunteer auxiliary already has a program for siblings of babies born at the hospital. Siblings have a certificate they can redeem for a trinket from the gift shop. There’s a cart of items they can choose from.
Henderson Libraries ordered 300 copies of the book “My Neighborhood,” illustrated by Maddie Frost, as an item to include on the cart. It’s also part of the Indestructibles series.
For older siblings, Hughett said, “it’s just kind our way of making them feel special in the midst of all of the ‘baby-ness.’”
For more information about Henderson Libraries’ services for children from birth to age 5, visit hendersonlibraries.com/birth-to-five.