A community effort to get books into the hands of all new mothers, with the hope their children grow up to live better lives, kicks off this month. This is the newest initiative of the North Central Regional Betterment Coalition’s (NCRBC) ‘Words Matter’ advocacy campaign.
Every new mother discharged from St. Margaret’s Health Spring Valley and St. Margaret’s Health Peru, and OSF St. Elizabeth in Ottawa, will be given a set of 6 books. The intent is for reading to, and with, 0-to-3-year-olds. An advocacy pamphlet describing the lifetime benefits of reading and verbally engaging infants right from birth will also be provided.
“This builds on the longstanding research of the ’30 Million Words’ project, according to NCRBC President J. Burt. This research shows the more infant to age 3 children are exposed to words, via reading and verbal engagement, the better they do at younger ages in the areas of cognitive, communication, and instructional skills. These children start out ahead, and they tend to stay ahead.
Burt explained “the first year of the Words Matter campaign focused on reaching mothers, fathers, and grandparents during prenatal care, at hospital discharge, and in pediatrician’s offices. It was reinforced with digital and social media. The natural progression is to begin putting books in the hands of the people most responsible for these children”
The coalition bringing the books to these new mothers includes LKCS of Peru, Illinois Valley Sunrise Rotary, the Perfectly Flawed Foundation, OSF St. Elizabeth, and St. Margaret’s Health. LKCS is providing enough Ranger Rick Zoobie 0-to-3 books for every mother for a year and reached out to NCRBC for distribution. From there, Perfectly Flawed Foundation and IV Sunrise Rotary worked to prepare, collate, and shrink wrap the 6-book set.
“We know there is a shortage of capable workers for our local employers and so it becomes clear we have upward room to help people do better and have a better chance at life,” Burt said. “This effort gets kids off to a better and faster start.”