Why Reading Matters

Babies need to hear words – a lot of them. Reading is a key way to expose babies to language, and to help a baby hear a wide variety of words. This helps a baby’s brain develop, building the neural infrastructure that is the basis for learning throughout life.

There is a huge gap between the number of words children in high income and low income households hear during the early years of life. Research estimates that children in professional households hear around 11 million words per year, while children in families receiving public assistance hear around 3 million words per year.* This has repercussions for learning through the rest of life.

Reading aloud is a simple way to narrow this gap.

* Hart, B. & Risley, T.R., Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children (1995).

Our Mission

To provide every child in the Roanoke Valley with his or her own library of books during the crucial early years of life.

What We Do

We put books in the hands of every baby born at Carilion’s Roanoke Memorial Hospital, provide books through book drives to the Roanoke City Public Library’s “Books on Buses” Campaign, and provide books to the Child Health Investment Partnership (“CHIP”) for distribution.

Reading to Your Baby

By the time babies reach their first birthday, they will have learned all the sounds needed to speak their native language. The more stories you read, the more words your child will be exposed to. By the time babies reach their first birthday, they will have learned all the sounds needed to speak their native language. The more stories you read, the more words your child will be exposed to.

0·3months

Babies can focus on books! They are drawn to faces, bright colors and contrasting patterns. A baby can recognize its main caregiver’s voice, and prefers that to other adult voices.Babies can focus on books! They are drawn to faces, bright colors and contrasting patterns. A baby can recognize its main caregiver’s voice, and prefers that to other adult voices.

4·6months

Babies may show more interest in books. They will grab, hold, mouth, and chew books. Board and fabric books with bright colors are appropriate. Look for books with lots of repetition and rhyme.Babies may show more interest in books. They will grab, hold, mouth, and chew books. Board and fabric books with bright colors are appropriate. Look for books with lots of repetition and rhyme.

7·12months

Babies may understand that pictures represent objects. Their awareness of print will be developing. Babies at this age may turn pages and repeat sounds. Your baby may babble and coo as you reread familiar texts. Babies at this age like familiar images such as bottles, balls, and other baby faces. Look for books with sturdy pages that can be propped up or spread out in the crib or on a blanket or even plastic/vinyl books to take into the bath.

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