A program that lays down the roots of reading for newborns at Nanaimo hospital is being recognized.
Roots to Read, a volunteer-operated program that launched last year, offers reading material, information and tools to parents to “promote literacy and language development in their child, beginning at birth,” the B.C. Patient Safety and Quality Council said in a press release. The council awarded Roots to Read a B.C. Quality Award in the early years category.
Reading, singing and speaking to a newborn is of utmost importance, the press release said.
“From birth, an infant’s brain and its neural pathways are growing rapidly. A child’s language environment from six months to one year of life is critical to the development of their language skills,” the council noted.
Jane Pegg and William Ehman, doctors and volunteers, started the program after seeing statistics from Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools suggesting delays in language and cognitive development, especially for basic reading skills. The two doctors formed a working group with the intention of creating the program, which is based on similar initiatives in Nova Scotia and Ontario.
As part of the program, parents of newborns at NRGH are given a reusable book bag with two new books, literacy tips, a library card application and a nursery rhyme booklet. More than 1,000 bags have been handed out since last year.
“Building literacy skills in children is one of the most effective ways to ensure children can achieve their full potential in school and throughout life,” Pegg said in the press release. “Literacy opens doors to understanding, empathy, critical thinking, and the capacity for lifelong learning. Through literacy, children learn communication skills and build emotional and social resilience.”