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 18 years ago at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Now in 14 hospitals, the program gives a free Literacy Packet to every mother with a newborn at those places.

A new aspect of Books for Babies, called the Prenatal Project, began in late 2016. Through the project, we provide information and new baby board books to women receiving prenatal care at community health centers and clinics. The centers tailor the project to meet their needs in treating OB patients. We currently are collaborating with six sites.

For more information on components of Books for Babies:

Books for Babies has reached more than 295,400 newborns and their parents at 14 hospitals in Connecticut.

At the hospitals, we:

  • annually deliver more than 22,000 Literacy Packets to mothers of newborns, who account for 61% 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 new baby board books and literacy brochures when their babies turn 3 months and 1 year;
  • offer books to siblings of newborns in the hospitals.

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 14 Partner Hospitals with
Births per Year
for July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017
Backus 944
Bridgeport 2,423
Charlotte Hungerford 450
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 4,797
YNHH-Saint Raphael 1,000
TOTAL 22,294

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. The Prenatal Project is in six sites. Three are community health centers; two are clinics; and one is a group.

The three community health centers are:

  • Fair Haven Community Health Center in New Haven
  • Optimus Health Care in Bridgeport
  • First Choice Community Health Center in East Hartford

The two clinics are:

  • Women’s Center at Yale New Haven Primary Care Clinic
  • Connecticut Children’s Medical Center – Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic in Hartford

The group is:

  • UCONN Health – Nurturing Families Network (OB group)