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Did you know that reading aloud to children is the single most important thing a parent can do to prepare their child for school and life-long success?  Early childhood, especially infancy, offers a critical window for learning with rapid brain development that doesn’t occur at any other time.  The number of words a child has heard by age 5 predicts school success. Yet fewer than half of young children in the US are read to daily!

Born to Read, our Club’s signature project, aims to get this message to parents at the earliest possible time so that they can take action as soon as their babies are born.  Working in partnership with Munson Hospital’s Healthy Futures, Great Start, the Traverse Area District Library, and Read Aloud 15 Minutes, Born to Read has delivered  “Welcome Baby kits” with a free book to 2,000 new parents.  To encourage use of local libraries and participation in special story times for parents and infants, the kit also includes a certificate for parents to pick up a free tote bag and second book at the Library. 

While we have made significant progress since starting Born to Read in 2011, Twilight Rotary and our partners want to make sure our message reaches even more new parents in the 5-county region.  In April, we finalized a 2-year strategic plan  (July 2014-June 2016) that adds three new avenues for encouraging parents to read to their babies.  In addition to delivering Welcome Baby kits and promoting library visits, we intend to:

  1. Introduce Born to Read and offer tips for reading to babies to all expectant parents during their last trimester prenatal appointment at Munson  Medical Center.
  2. Provide “Book Exchange Boxes” and tips for reading to babies at pediatric waiting rooms, baby pantries, playgroups and other community locations in the 5-county region.
  3. Train our Club members and other volunteers as literacy advocates who will visit these community locations to model reading aloud to infants and toddlers and encourage parents to follow this example.

We are excited about the potential these strategies have to reach even more parents.