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Books for Babies marks milestone

December 25, 2008

HAGERSTOWN -- Books for Babies has distributed its 10,000th "birthing packet" at Washington County Hospital. Andrea Atkinson and her newborn Logan were the recipients.

Atkinson said she was appreciative of the Books for Babies program because "it's great to start reading with your children at a young age. It's a good bonding experience."

Families where reading is a regular activity produce children more likely to succeed academically, according to a prepared release from program officials.

By providing a book package in the maternity ward, Books for Babies gives parents and their infants a head start at a busy time in life. Reading materials immediately at hand start to form habits that can last a lifetime.

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Thousands of local elementary school students have funded Books for Babies by obtaining sponsors to reward their reading efforts during Children's Book Week every fall since 2002. Backing this annual Reading to Make Cents campaign, community stores and services donate prizes to the students who raise the most funds countywide and at every public elementary school in Washington County.

This school year, Reading to Make Cents moves to a new date, Feb. 1-8, 2009, with the format remaining the same.

The program began in 2000 with a volunteer committee. Representatives from the Washington County Reading Council, Washington County Library and Washington County Public Schools have worked in conjunction with Washington County Hospital to implement the program.

Volunteers help wrap the book packages and coordinate the Reading to Make Cents program in the school system. Their efforts make it possible to fund a book package for every child born at Washington County Hospital. In recent years, funding success has allowed outreach to infants served by Washington County Health Department programs as well.

Books for Babies is a volunteer, community-based effort. Not only do newborns get an early introduction to books, but thousands of elementary school students have been encouraged to read while raising funds over the years, the release says.

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