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Books for Babies a winner

May 10 2012
Public-health nurse Leslee Crisp, left, gives a Books for Babies kit to Michelle Williams and her five-week-old son Carter. 

Public-health nurse Leslee Crisp, left, gives a Books for Babies kit to Michelle Williams and her five-week-old son Carter.

Photograph by: Adrian Lam , timescolonist.com

Reading is the birthright of every child.

And this year, more than 2,000 newborns will receive a book and a CD from the Greater Victoria Public Library's Books for Babies program.

When it began in 2006, the program was funded through the Ministry of Education and the Ministry for Children and Family Development. The funding was cut in 2009, but the Steve Nash Foundation and the TD Bank Financial Group stepped in to save the program in the Victoria area.

This year, a $25,000 Raise-A-Reader grant from the Times Colonist Book Sale will help the Books for Babies program turn another page.

The book sale, which features thousands of donated books, takes place this weekend.

"The aim of the program is that a child will grow up reading," said Patricia Eaton, GVPL manager of public service. "What we say is: it's never too early to read to a child, to sing to a child and to hear nursery rhymes and songs. They really respond to that. It creates a warm, loving bond between caregiver and child."

"It's such a great fit," said Tracy Kendrick, GVPL co-ordinator of children's and teen services. "I see the mandate of Raise-a-Reader as family literacy and this is a great way to get children on the way to reading."

Public health nurse Dianne Dall'Acqua has been delivering the Books for Babies kits to new parents for almost six years.

"We love to give it. It's a very exciting initiative for us. We love the idea of having that positive impact on families," Dall'Acqua said.

The kits, which are being given out now, contain a CD called Zoom Zoom Cuddle and Croon by Kathy ReidNaiman and the board book Canada in Colours by PerHenrick Gurth.

"The mothers are thrilled, particularly if there are little siblings. It's a really good way of bringing them into that world of the new baby as well because they enjoy sharing the books and sharing the music and they interact together," Dall'Acqua said.

"Parents love it. They absolutely love it. It engages the whole family together. And it's so much fun."

Public health recognizes the importance of interaction between parents and their newborn babes, Dall'Acqua said. Studies show babies have a better ability to distinguish speech sounds before seven months if their parents sing, talk and read to them.

"It really makes an amazing impact on people," Dall'Acqua said. "The goal is to make more families aware of how important it is to read right from birth."

The kit contains a pamphlet with information on the library and its programs.

A 2009 study on the Books for B.C. Babies kits found that it had a positive impact. The study reported that 60 per cent of parents who received the kits planned to read more often to their baby, 48 per cent used the library more often, 33 per cent joined the library after receiving a kit and 91 per cent planned to attend the library after receiving the kit.

The GVPL kits are similar to the provincial kits, so it can be assumed they are having a similar impact, Kendrick said.

Once families receive the kit, they often attend the babytime or toddler time programs at the library. There are also popular family drop-in programs.

Any new mother who has not received a kit can go to the library to pick one up.

"The main goal is to get the book into the hands of parents," Eaton said.

TIMES COLONIST BOOK SALE

Where: Victoria Curling Club, 1952 Quadra St.

When: Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Why: All funds raised by the Times Colonist Raise-A-Reader campaign go to schools and literacy groups on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

Prices: Hardcovers $3; softcovers $2; paperbacks and children's books $1.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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