“This is the first time we’ve participated in a project of this scale,” said Kate Park, executive director of Friends of the Dallas Public Library, referring to Books for Dallas Babies. The initiative, which was launched at the beginning of this year by FODPL, the Dallas Public Library, and Parkland Health & Hospital System, is intended to encourage new mothers from low-income families to read with their children by sending them home with a book after giving birth.
After reaching out to several publishers to submit books for the program, Dallas librarians and Parkland chose Judi Moreillon’s Read to Me (Star Bright Books), illustrated by Kyra Teis, which is based on a poem that she wrote for a literacy project for teen parents in 1997. It not only speaks directly to parents about the importance of reading with young children, but it is also available in bilingual English/Spanish and English/Vietnamese editions. The three most frequently spoken languages among Parkland patients are, in descending order: Spanish, English, and Vietnamese.
“We are providing families with their first free book and sharing that a lifetime of free books await them at their local public library,” Park said. She noted that the initiative, which will provide more than 12,000 books in 2016, has already been so successful that it has received funding to continue handing out the book to new mothers in 2017. According to nurses, Park said, many of the mothers didn’t know about their neighborhood library or that they could take their children to story time at the library for free.
This isn’t the first time that a literacy group has selected Read to Me. “We have supplied this book as is, to a number of literacy groups and often done special print runs of Read to Me as well as special print runs of other titles for literacy groups where we have added their logo or their special message on the back of the book,” said Star Bright’s national sales manager Mary Gibson, who handles national literacy sales. The book, which was first published in 2004, has sold more than 100,000 copies to date.