Creating An Early Connection to Local Schools
At just two days old, baby Everly Benedict of Siletz isn’t quite ready to start reading yet. But when she does begin to show an interest in colorful pictures and fun words, her parents will have at least two books to share with her, through Lincoln County School District’s “Books for Babies” program. “We are providing a board book to every newborn at the two hospitals in Lincoln County,” explains LCSD Early Learning Coordinator Lauren Sigman. “The books are all about babies, developmentally appropriate, and durable enough to be chewed on.”
Following Everly’s birth at Samaritan Pacific Hospital in Newport, parents Alexzandra Hartsock and Seth Benedict received a copy of the book, “Everywhere Babies.” This popular board book is filled with rhyming text and delightful drawings of babies playing, sleeping, and doing all the wonderful things that babies do.
“Books for Babies” is an LCSD program in collaboration with Samaritan Health Services and Lincoln County Health and Human Services Nurse Home Visiting Program. The seed for the program was planted with an idea from Clint Raever, principal at Toledo Junior/Senior High School. Sigman followed through to make the idea grow, obtaining grants and making connections with community partners.
The books are being presented by the nurses of Lincoln County Nurse Home Visiting Program when they make their first visit with families. At the same time, the visiting nurse provides information on community services that can offer valuable assistance to growing families, including resources for maternal mental health and child wellbeing.
After receiving the first book, parents may go to their neighborhood elementary school to pick up a second free book for their child. This includes the public and charter schools in Lincoln City, Newport, Toledo, and Waldport. The books are available in English and Spanish.
The books were purchased using grant funds from the Behren’s Foundation and the Early Literacy grant. Principal Raever encouraged his high school students to be involved by making and placing labels inside of each book explaining the program.
“Through Books for Babies, we hope to build a nice connection between our young families and our schools,” Sigman says. “It’s our way of saying, ‘Welcome to the world! We look forward to teaching you in five years.’ “