New program gives books to infants

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

***image1***Raising a child who loves to read is not an impossible task. Just begin reading to him as an infant and continue through childhood.
Members of the 415th Base Support Battalion libraries began an early literacy program aimed at all infants born at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. The program features a book bag with three children’s books and some literature on early literacy, which is given to all mothers of newborns at LRMC. The idea is to get started reading to the babies right away.
So far, the program has not wasted any time in getting the books to the LRMC Post Partum Depart-ment. Juanita Jenison was lying in bed with her newborn son, waiting to go home, when a LRMC librarian knocked on her door, book bag in hand.
“Oh, wow,” said Mrs. Jenison. “I’m a teacher, so I really believe in this stuff.”
Mrs. Jenison said she began reading to her first child as soon as she returned from the hospital.
“I began reading to her way before she was able to sit up,” she said. “I held her in one arm and a magazine in the other. I read to her as I paced around the room.”
Magazines and books have come in handy during late-night sessions with her children, she said.
“When it’s 3 a.m. and you’re blurry-eyed, it’s hard to think of things to say,” said Mrs. Jenison. “So books really help.”
Books do much more than merely help a mother decide what to say. During a child’s first three years, his brain develops at a high rate. Every turn of the page represents an increase in the child’s vocabulary, comprehension, reasoning and grammatical skills, according to an article from the National Center for Family Literacy.
“I have seen kids read at very young ages,” said Mrs. Jenison. “Children who have been exposed to reading have larger vocabularies, read sooner and have more of an interest in books.”
Tips for raising a reader include, visiting the library, singing to the baby, reciting nursery rhymes and reading with him each day, said Shaun Friend-Begin, a Landstuhl librarian.
The books were selected by Ms. Shaun Friend-Begin. Funding for the program came via a donation from the Kaiserslautern Military Spouse Association. So far, seven book bags have been distributed.
There is no high-tech distribution process. No Internet registry or courier service facilitates the process. Old-fashioned, personal service keeps this program functioning. Each morning, excluding Sundays and holidays, either Heike Templin, also a Landstuhl librarian or Ms. Friend-Begin make their way to the LRMC Post Partum Ward in search of new infants.
“I go there almost every morning,” said Ms. Templin. “I just walk up to the counter, get the name and room number, and deliver the bag. The ladies seem to really like the program. I think it’s appreciated. We have certainly not had any negative reactions.”
Expectant mothers who deliver at LRMC will now have the opportunity to turn their child into an early reader.