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Born to Read

For the past three years, each of the 140 babies born each month at St. Francis Hospital goes home with his or her first four books, and their parents are encouraged to begin reading with their children at once.

The program is called Born to Read, and is funded in part by Community Literacy monies.

Federal Way resident Sandy Lyle is one of Born to Read’s creators. She knew of the importance of stimulating childrens’ intelligence from an early age, and believed there were many young parents whose children would benefit from being read to from birth.

“A lot of parents, who don’t read themselves or are not highly educated, believe that words are not important to newborn or very young children,” Lyle said. “On the contrary, the tone of voice, the rhythm of words communicates love and encourages the child’s mental stimulation and development. If you don’t talk to them, they don’t learn.”

Lyle adds that there is considerable recent research that shows if certain connections aren’t made in a child’s brain by the age of three, that child will lose their ability to develop their brain to permit further learning.

The envelope which each mother receives contains information about the importance of early childhood stimulation, additional resources for more information and four small books. The four books, printed on heavy cardboard, so the infants can finger them, cover color, shape, number and size according to Family Birth Center manager Annette Stier.

“We encourage a regular reading time at night, when things are quiet,” she said. “We have parents coming back through with their second or third child who tell us how much they and their infant loved those books.”

Since initiating Born to Read, Lyle has gone on to develop a more intensive program in which she actually shows young parents, early day care providers and other groups why early childhood stimulation is so important.

“I know that my message will be much more powerful and effective if I can show an impact on young children instead of just handing someone a packet of information that I hope they will pay attention to,” she said.

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