THE BEGINNING of life is the best time to start reading to your baby.
That’s the message from the new Wee Readers Program, put on by the Terrace Public Library and Northwest Success by 6, that reaches out to families in the community with resources for parents.
“A lot don’t realize, they don’t think about reading to a little baby,” said Jess Dafoe, children’s librarian, adding that reading to a baby can promote bonding, language development and understanding the rhythm of speech.
This program bridges the gap left by the loss of provincial government money for the Books for Babies Program, said Dafoe, who added the program is “a homegrown endeavor.”
It delivers learning resources directly to families of all newborns in Terrace and the Nass Valley and connects them to additional resources in their community, she added, adding that the bags given out have items in them that promote parental reading, singing and playing with their babies.
Bags are distributed by local public health nurses for free to all families with newborns.
Each bag contains tools to get families started in reading, singing, and playing with their babies.
Bags include a guide for parents, a board book, a CD of rhymes and songs, a DVD with reading strategies for babies, and information about local library resources.
The program’s logo, a Kermode bear and cub, is on the bags and was designed by local artist Cynthia Powell.
The best ways to build early language and literacy skills are by reading, talking, and singing to newborns as these skills affect a child fs lifelong development, said Dafoe.
Rhymes and songs we learned as children can be told to our babies but those don’t seem to be getting passed along anymore, so parents don’t have them anymore, she added.
According to research conducted by The Council for Early Child Development, the relationship between caregiver and infant plays a pivotal role in influencing neural pathways for language and higher cognitive functions, especially within the first 12 months of life, she said.
Current studies from the University of BC show that more than one-third of Terrace children were gconsidered vulnerable h by kindergarten, which is well above the provincial average, she added.
Money for the Wee Readers Program comes from a Northwest Success by 6 grant and is for a year.