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Free books at Christ Hospital encourage reading to newborns, lifelong literacy

Books for babies
Posted at 4:39 AM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-30 16:51:42-05

CINCINNATI — New parents discharged from The Christ Hospital are taking home more than just a newborn - they get a book and encouragement to start reading to their baby immediately.

The Christ Hospital Health Network started handing out books this week, and it expects to hand out 3,400 books this year.

"You should be reading to your children basically from the moment they're born," said Dr. Jenny Demos, associate medical director of the Liberty Birthing Center. "They like listening to your voice and hearing words and seeing pictures on the book and it makes reading a special time, so they grow to enjoy it."

A 2019 Ohio State University study found 4 million American children under age 3 had never been read to in their lifetime.

"They like to hear those words and see the pictures and start to make those connections as they become more developmentally aware," Demos said.

The Christ Hospital Health Network partnered with Pampers and Scholastic to bring diverse and bilingual books to new parents as part of the network's "Surprise and Delight" program, which also includes the limited-edition onesie program on certain celebratory days in Cincinnati.

Susan and Jordan Sayatovic were among the first to receive a book. They received "The Wheels on the Bus," which they read with baby Nora.

Susan and Jordan Sayatovic
Susan and Jordan Sayatovic read baby Nora as part of the Pampers Bright Beginnings program at The Christ Hospital Health Network.

A 2020 survey found 45% of parents believe they shouldn't start reading to a child until they turn 2.

"At Pampers, we believe a baby’s earliest days are essential toward shaping a bright beginning,” Sarah Pasquinucci, senior communications director for P&G North America Baby Care, wrote in a news release. “Through Pampers Bright Beginnings, our goal is to help every baby experience the benefits of being read to from birth and we are thrilled to be able to achieve this at a local level through our partnership with The Christ Hospital.”

Pampers Bright Beginnings program also includes community partnerships in other cities across the country and a longstanding relationship with the March of Dimes. An advisory council guides the program's efforts and includes professor and co-director of the Cincinnati Children's Pediatric Education Center, Dr. Tom DeWitt.

The Christ Hospital Health Network started giving out books the last week of January, and it expects to receive more books for distribution through June.