Reading is something people do practically everyday. But there are those who cannot read or do not read much in their daily lives.
The Portsmouth Public Library has been given a donation that it is using to help reach out to the public by giving books and a library card to every family who has a child born in Portsmouth.
Maxwell and Greyson, twin sons of Kyle and Kari Mains, are the first recipients of the Portsmouth Public Library’s new Born to Read program. Through the generous donation of a local family, the library system will provide each child born at Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC) with a cloth book bag, which includes a paperback picture book and a board book, available in English or Spanish versions. Included in the bag with the books is a bookmark with tips about reading to your child, information about upcoming library programs for babies and toddlers, and a library card application for a “My First Library Card.”
Library director Paige Williams says the donor family wants to remain anonymous, but the family asked her what she saw as a real need the library could fill if it received a grant. “One of the programs I’ve always wanted to do — I used to be the youth services coordinator before becoming the director — there was a program that many libraries have been doing for years, they call them different things, but we decided to call ours ‘Born to Read.’ It gives all children born in the local hospital this book bag with the books, bookmark and the library application.”
Williams continues, “It also contains information about reading to your child, even as a baby, and why it’s important to read to them and the importance of having books in a child’s home. I had wanted to try this program, but it is quite expensive, so this family discussed it and decided they really, really wanted to support it. Through their money, we have been able to start this program, and it will fund it for the first year. We started it in December of 2017.
“One of the things we have is to encourage people to come in and get cards for their babies, which they have been doing, and we have already had to replenish the amount we have taken. We are hoping that with the 1,200 or so babies born here, we will get books in the homes of 1,000 to 1,200 babies. We put the two books in the bag, so as the child gets older, they can use the other one, or if there is an older sibling in the home, they can use the book. The American Library Association, several years ago, started this program, and now everyone is doing their own type and name of this program, like we did for ours,” Williams says.
The library, SOMC and the donor family are working together to increase literacy by gifting young children in Scioto County with books in the home. According to literacy studies, children who have books in their homes have a much higher success rate in school. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that the importance of reading to children begins at birth. Improving literacy in Scioto County is important, as a 2016 study determined that up to 48 percent of adults in Scioto County have a low literacy rate.
The Born to Read program will also acquaint parents with the importance of reading to their children and encourage them to attend library programs which will help their babies develop language skills and start them on the path to success in reading and learning.
Contact the Portsmouth Public Library’s Youth Services Department at 740-354-5562 or online at www.yourppl.org for more information about the Born to Read program or children’s programming. If you want to make a tax-deductible donation or leave a bequest to this program, contact the library director at 740-353-5990.
Most who read a lot in their daily lives take for granted the wonder of reading. This program can be a great start for all local families.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext.1928