Thanks to a partnership between Washington County Library and Washington County Public Health and Environment, new and expectant parents utilizing the county’s Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) program will receive a tote bag full of useful resources to help build their child’s language skills. The program aims to get every baby in Washington County ready to read.
The Read to Me tote bag includes three free books, information about early literacy education, a bib from Help Me Grow, and an invitation to parents to sign up their baby for a library card. The totes were made possible through a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
“Children learn language and pre-reading skills by listening to their parents and to other important adults in their lives,” said Dawn LaBrosse, Washington County Library youth services coordinator. “Reading, talking and singing with babies builds strong brain connections that are key to later critical thinking and reading skills. As their child’s first and best teacher, parents play an important role in their later reading and school success.”
Volunteers from the library helped staff stuff the 500 totes in order to be ready for the Feb. 1 launch date. Members of the R.H. Stafford Library Teen Advisory Board also lent a hand in filling the totes so they could be taken to the county’s three WIC clinic locations in Forest Lake, Stillwater, and Cottage Grove. The totes will be distributed to WIC participants as part of their routine office visits, and public health nurses will also deliver the totes to families they connect with during home visits.
“We are delighted to partner with the Washington County Library on this project,” said Maggie Domski, Public Health Program Supervisor. “WIC provides healthy foods and nutrition advice for our moms and babies for healthy bodies, and we love being able to support healthy minds and brain development with this project. Although we have only just begun distributing the totes, the joy and excitement on our clients’ faces when they receive a tote is heartwarming.”
In addition to the Read to Me totes, a library staff member will set up a pop-up library in each WIC clinic location with books for parents and children to enjoy while they wait for their appointments. Once a month, library staff will be available on-site to answer any questions parents might have about the library or the reading materials provided to them.
Teen Advisory Board members help stuff Read to Me totes to be taken to the county's WIC clinic locations in Forest Lake, Stillwater, and Cottage Grove.