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 20 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 ten sites.

For more information on components of Books for Babies:

Books for Babies has reached more than 305,950 newborns and their parents at 14 hospitals in Connecticut.

At the hospitals, we:

  • annually deliver about 22,000 Literacy Packets to mothers of newborns, who account for 60% 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, 2018 – June 30, 2019
Backus 850
Bridgeport 2,452
Charlotte Hungerford 387
Day Kimball 431
Griffin 524
Hartford 3,661
Lawrence + Memorial 1,322
Manchester 1,360
Middlesex 976
Saint Francis 2,633
Saint Vincent’s 733
Sharon 200
Yale-New Haven 4,745
YNHH-Saint Raphael 1,032
TOTAL 21,306

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 nine sites. Five are community health centers; two are clinics; and two are medical groups, one of which has two sites.

The four community health centers are:

  • Fair Haven Community Health Center in New Haven
  • Cornell-Scott Hill Health Corp in New Haven
  • Optimus Health Care in Bridgeport
  • Charter Oak Health Center in Hartford

The two clinics are:

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

The two groups are:

  • UCONN Health – Nurturing Families Network (OB group)
  • Day Kimball Medical Group OB/GYN in Putnam and Day Kimball Health Care Center in Plainfield