Books for Babies

Parents are their babies’ first teachers. We help parents realize the important — and fun — role they play in developing their infants’ language skills, starting from birth. This Connecticut program gives parents basic tools to start: baby board books, how-to guides and other resources.

Watch our video, “A First Guide for Parents of Newborns”

Books for Babies, the flagship program of Read to Grow in Connecticut, started 16 years ago at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Now in 12 hospitals, the program gives a free Literacy Packet to every mother with a newborn at those places.

Also, Books for Babies provides books and childhood literacy information to 13 clinics in Hartford and New Haven. Those clinics serve low-income pregnant women in prenatal care and low-income families with 2-month-old infants in well-baby checkups.

Books for Babies is launching an initiative in 2016 to reach expectant parents receiving care at community health centers and primary care clinics.

For more information on components of Books for Babies:

Books for Babies has reached more than 278,000 newborns and their parents at 12 hospitals in Connecticut.

At the hospitals, we:

  • annually deliver more than 22,000 Literacy Packets to mothers of newborns, who account for 58% of births in the state;
  • have about 40 volunteers trained to visit with mothers bedside to talk about developing their babies’ language skills in simple, fun and loving ways;
  • offer a free Follow-Up to all the mothers. It allows them to receive in the mail another new baby board book and literacy brochures when their babies turn 3 months;
  • offer books to siblings of newborns.

Literacy Packets are available in English and bilingual (Spanish-English) versions. The contents are:

  • Baby board book: “Welcome to the World!”
  • Booklet: “First Guide for Parents of Newborns”
  • Reply card for more free books over the baby’s first year through our Follow-Up
  • CHET Baby Scholars information and reply card

The 12 Partner Hospitals with
Approximate Births per Year
for July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016
Bridgeport 2,423
Day Kimball 522
Griffin 605
Hartford 3,807
Lawrence + Memorial 1,452
Manchester 1,441
Middlesex 976
Saint Francis 2,775
Saint Vincent’s 989
Sharon 271
Yale-New Haven 4797
YNHH-Saint Raphael 1,000
TOTAL 21,058

A collaboration between a doctors’ residency training program at Yale-New Haven Hospital and Books for Babies brings pediatricians to our office in Branford to learn more about early childhood literacy.

For Read to Grow, delivering this literacy message to doctors and other health-care providers goes hand-in-hand with our education of parents.

Every pediatrician with REACH (Resident Education and Advocacy in Community Health) at Yale-New Haven Hospital who visits Read to Grow has an hour-long, one-on-one workshop with a Book for Babies staff member.

Overall, the purpose of REACH is to have doctors visit community programs to learn about and better understand their patients’ challenges and the resources available to them.

Today the Books for Babies program is expanding to take our work to community health centers and primary care clinics where pregnant women receive care.

This new intervention aims to shape families’ attitudes and behaviors so that parents regularly share books and otherwise engage with their babies, starting at birth. With free books, we will also help expectant parents start their children’s home libraries.