Article Contributed by
Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services
As part of their role in helping to give area babies the best possible start in life, staff with Chautauqua County’s Nurse Family Partnership and Maternal and Infant Community Health Collaborative encourage families to read to their children, starting in early infancy. There was just one problem: many of the homes they visit were very short on books.
“Our program budget does not allow for purchase of books,” explains Project Director Catherine Burgess, RN, “so we did some brainstorming and Books for Babies was born. We are thrilled that the Zonta Club of Jamestown responded as the first organization to help us by collecting new and gently-used books to share with the families we serve.”
“Community Health Workers and Registered Nurses with our program are not simply delivering books to the home; they are using these books to model the type of positive parent-child interaction that stimulates early literacy skills,” states Ms. Burgess.
According to experts at National Association for the Education of Young Children, such early literacy skills might include allowing infants to play with books as objects, pointing out colors, shapes and familiar objects to the child, helping an older baby to turn pages, and getting into the habit of holding and reading a book with a baby, even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time.
“Reading was a big deal when my daughter Macie was growing up. We read every night. So, I can’t imagine not having books to read with the kids.” Said Kellie Warner, member of the Zonta Club of Jamestown. Kellie helped to coordinate a collection of books from the Zonta Club members to help kick off the program.
For more information on the Zonta Club of Jamestown, visit ZontaJamestown.org. To make a donation to Books for Babies of new or gently used board books or other books geared to very young children, contact Cathy Burgess at 753-4783.