Every baby born at McLaren Northern Michigan hospital is receiving a board book and Early Literacy Guide as part of the Rotary Club of Petoskey’s (Michigan, US – D 6290) recently launched “Born to Read” programme.
The programme was launched in September, Rotary International’s Literacy Month.
Besides a board book — a book printed on thick paperboard — families receive an Early Literacy Guide detailing the community resources already available to establish the building blocks of literacy during the most malleable period of brain growth, birth to age 5.
“According to a 2005 Michigan study, the greatest amount of brain growth occurs between birth and age five,” said Nicole LaDeur, Rotarian and project co-chair.
Citing a study that followed children from preschool to age 40, LaDeur noted that by age 3, roughly 85 percent of the brain’s core structure is formed.
“This programme came about after learning there are kids in our community who don’t have books in their home,” said project co-chair and Rotarian Jeff Wynder.
According to the findings from the IEA Reading Literacy Study, 61 per cent of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children.
Locally, according to a 2017 Char-Em United Way report, 37 per cent of Emmet County households earn less than the basic cost of living.
“This puts a large portion of our community at risk for not having any books in their home,” Wynder noted.
With a book going home with each newborn, the family can start the reading journey from birth, the two Rotarians said, and continue that reading journey through community resources such as the United Way’s Dolly Parton Imagination Library and by visiting their children’s section of their own local library.
Addressing education needs in the community is a key focus area for the Rotary Club of Petoskey.
The club has supported education through scholarships and capital funding.