So far, not much about 2020 has been predictable. And much of it has been unsettling at best. But one thing that we can count on is that babies keep being born and, even in these extraordinary circumstances, they need the same things: love, nurturing, encouragement—and books!
Educators, child development experts, and librarians all agree that reading aloud to babies helps prepare them for later learning. And we’re thrilled to have so many local, national, and international organizations supporting the healthy development of babies everywhere. Locally, Hello Baby is an exciting new initiative in Allegheny County, aimed at ensuring that every family has the resources needed to nurture their newborns. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is proud to partner with the United Way to provide a new book, selected from our annual Best Books for Babies lists, to babies born in local hospitals.
NurturePA is another local effort. Volunteer mentors connect with expecting parents and those with new babies to offer support and resources through texting. This quick and easy communication method is intended to offer options particularly to parents who may not have ample community support.
Pittsburgh residents with children under five also have the option of signing up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. This program offers a free book monthly to children birth to five.
Of course, there are probably still parents who can’t quite imagine reading aloud to an infant. While it’s different than sharing a book with a toddler or preschooler, there are still significant benefits, including the cozy feeling of cuddling with your baby.
Those looking for a bit more background will want to check out the website of Zero to Three, an organization “founded in 1977 by leading researchers and clinicians in diverse disciplines focused on child development” is a “global non-profit organization [that] reaches millions of parents, professionals and policymakers each year.” In addition to resources on a wide variety of topics, they offer insights into fostering early literacy.
As awareness of the importance of early learning has grown, resources and information have proliferated. So there are plenty of other great organizations doing good work.
For now, though, we’d like to leave you with a recommendation for a few titles you might want to check out: this year’s Best Books for Babies list. You’ll find board books with moving parts, empowering, feel-good celebrations of baby head to toe, photo-packed bilingual board books, and more.