Originally created 01/25/02

Program teaches importance of reading to babies



Rebecca Roberts is making sure her daughter Katelyn is getting a jump-start on her education.

Sitting in a hospital room with Katelyn cradled in her arms, Ms. Roberts read Read To Your Bunny to her 5-day-old daughter.

"I read to my other two girls when they were little, and they are both huge readers," she said. "I think it makes a great difference."

University Hospital volunteer Joyce Meyer wants to make sure other new mothers are also aware of the importance of reading to their newborns. Ms. Meyer and other hospital volunteers are taking part in the Born to Read program. The program is a national literacy campaign to stress the importance of reading to newborns and to promote the love of reading in the upcoming generation.

"This is a very worthwhile program," Ms. Meyer said.

The local campaign is a joint effort between University Hospital and Augusta State University.

"We really want to encourage reading at an early age, and this is a wonderful way to do it," said Frances Altizer, the director of volunteer services at University Hospital. The Augusta hospital is the only hospital in the state participating in the program, University officials said.

Ms. Altizer said volunteers present new mothers with a bag of materials on the importance of reading to their newborns along with a book.

Research conducted by universities throughout the nation states that from age 2 months to 4 years a child's mind absorbs faster than any other period. In fact, Ms. Altizer said, research has proven a direct link between reading and success in schools.

Jacqueline Padgett, who just gave birth to her fifth child, is a firm believer in reading to children.

"Reading to your children early on I believe helps with their attention span. It's wonderful," Ms. Padgett said.

Reach Ashlee Griggs at (706) 823-3552.