RANSON, W.Va. – West Virginia University Hospitals-East’s Jefferson Memorial Hospital recently celebrated its 1000th baby in the First Books for Babies Program in Jefferson County. Craig Matthew Eyler, son of Kristen and Johnathan Eyler of Shepherdstown, was greeted with flowers, balloons and a new book during a celebration today at the hospital.
First Books for Babies, which began in December 2007 as the first program of its kind in the state, assures that new parents of children born at Jefferson Memorial Hospital receive a children’s book along with information on the benefits of reading to babies. The program is based on similar efforts in Washington and Frederick Counties in Maryland, according to Project Leader Charlotte Porter.
“We have been working collaboratively with the Shepherdstown Public Library, the Jefferson County Reading Council, and Jefferson Memorial Hospital to bring this excellent project to our community,” Porter commented. “It’s exciting to be celebrating our 1000th baby in the program,” she added.
Reading to babies has many benefits including developing language skills, enhancing listening skills, building awareness, reinforcing basic concepts, stimulating the imagination and providing the physical closeness so critical to the social and emotional development of a child, stated Porter, a former librarian.
“New parents head home from the hospital with lots of information and important equipment they will need to care for their newborns. We think this should also include a quality, age-appropriate book,” Porter commented.
Thanks to donations from organizations such as the hospital auxiliary Jefferson County Council, Kiwanis Club, 4-H, Jefferson High School Thespian Troup 2772 and individual donors, First Books for Babies is well on its way to fulfill its mission to promote literacy and give every baby born at Jefferson Memorial Hospital a new book.
“We’re excited to be able to participate in a program that encourages reading to infants,” commented Sandra Martin, OB nurse manager at Jefferson Memorial Hospital. “Our new moms and dads appreciate the gift, and we hope that it does inspire them to begin reading to their children at an early age.”
Anyone interested in supporting the program can send donations to First Books for Babies, Shepherdstown Public Library, c/o Libby Sturm, 457 Berridge Drive, Shepherdstown, WV 25443.