Library has baby-welcoming gifts ready

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 2, 2008

NATCHEZ — With 500 children’s books, two brightly colored rugs and a plush new rocking chair, the staff of Armstrong Library is hoping to change the future of literacy in Adams County.

With funding from a Rotary International grant, the library has purchased 500 books for mothers to read to their newborns.

The books, to be distributed in kits, will be given to mothers leaving Natchez Regional Medical Center and Natchez Community Hospital.

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Anne White, Armstrong’s assistant director, said the reading program for newborns is the first step in a community-wide literacy program.

“It’s so critical to success later in life,” she said of early literacy development. “And the library is an integral part of the community.”

White said the plan to get mothers reading to their newborns will hopefully encourage those same children to pursue a life filled with reading.

Upon leaving the hospital mothers will receive an age appropriate book, a special library card application and a library card for their newborn.

The parent’s application form will be used to measure the program’s utilization, White said.

Local hospital officials agreed with White and said it’s never too early to start reading to children.

Nurse manager of the Women’s Center at Natchez Regional Medical Center, Glenda Pollan, said many parents begin reading to their children even before they’re born.

“When they’re born they can recognize voices,” she said.

And even though newborn children cannot comprehend material being read to them, they still benefit from reading, Pollan said.

“It helps to create a bond and helps the baby to focus,” she said.

Pollan said the focus a child builds while being read to is not equal to the focus from watching television or playing a video game.

“And there’s no bonding with television,” she said.

White said in preparation of what she hopes will be a renewed interest in the library; the children’s reading area has been expanded.

In the coming month she hopes to expand the children’s reading time to include a time for mothers to read to newborns.

White said once all the reading kits are assembled she hopes to have them in hospitals by mid-May.