Wednesday, January 20, 2010

BEST Way to Start a Love for Literacy: Board Books for Babies

"Board Books for Babies"
Sarita Rich of Elk Ridge Middle School
reads to her little one.

 Dear Friends,

In January 2006 our sixth grandchild and third grand-daughter arrived at a hospital in Las Vegas. Our thrill quickly evaporated when we learned that she experienced life-threatening complications during the birth process. Our Mia spent her first week of life in a neo-natal intensive care unit while nurses and doctors treated her.

It was very strange to see this 7 pounds-plus baby sleeping in an isolet next to a tiny, tiny baby who weighed 2 pounds, maybe. Both babies had tubes stuck, taped, and fixed to their heads, hands, and legs. Of course, Mia's size factored into her complete recovery, while her bitty roommate's low weight was definitely a detriment.

As I watched attendants record their progress and administer to their needs, I marveled at the advances in medicine that so often save lives such as these. But the most amazing treatment I witnessed didn't come from any doctors or nurses; it came at the hands of the premature baby's mother.

As I rocked my grand-daughter, I saw this young mother stand close to her little one with a large picture book in hand, and I listened to her quietly, but enthusiastically read the words to her baby. I can't even write about this without tears welling. I'll never forget that picture and the message it delivered - "Hear my voice, Baby Dearest. Listen to your mommy read these words to you and tell you about the pictures and colors on the pages. I know you can't understand what I'm saying, but you know what I'm sharing: my love and my dreams for you." 

When editing today's post, I decided to scrap the original and write about an important service project sponsored by Jordan Council of the International Reading Association (JCIRA). "Board Books for Babies" was organized to collect new board books for "literacy kits" that we're assembling to present to new mothers at the IHC Regional Hospital that just opened in Riverton.

We want very much to help young moms start their little ones on the road to literacy by giving them a book they can read to babies that very day. We'll also include a letter of congratulations that informs them of the importance of reading to their children from the minute they join their family.

Reading to young children does so much to build oral communication, print awareness, and - most importantly - a bond between the reader and the little one. Print awareness, a term not familiar to many secondary teachers or parents, teaches children "how" to read a book in our culture: from front to back, left to right; and top to bottom. Print awareness also links words to pictures and to their own limited experiences.

Whether or not you are a member of JCIRA, we invite you to donate one or more new books to our organization so that we can serve the littlest ones in our communities.

You can ~
  • bring the book to our next meeting FEBRUARY 8 at 4:30 P.M. in the ASB building on Redwood Road, or ...
  • send it to RENAE SALISBURY (me) at the district office, or ...
  • call or email me to PICK IT UP AT YOUR SCHOOL, and I will!
We want to wrap up this project by Valentine's Day. Thanks so much for considering this worthy cause in a year when there are so many.

Best wishes,

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