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Books for Babies gives infants a head start

November 03, 2009

Seven-month-old Conner Hurley is getting an early start learning about the world around him through reading.

His parents, Christine and Ben Hurley, read to Conner every night as part of his bedtime routine.

"He loves to look at the books, touch (and chew on!) the pages and listen to the story. We started reading to Conner the very first night he was home from the hospital," says Christine Hurley.

She is a library media specialist and Ben is a teacher with Washington County Public Schools. As teachers, they understand the importance of reading to Conner from the very beginning. Christine says "we hope that by modeling good reading habits that we will instill the love of reading in Conner."

Like every infant at Washington County Hospital, he received a "Books for Babies" packet with a board book, literature and information about the importance of reading to your child.

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Reading is not just an antidote for baby boredom. Research has shown that children that are read aloud to at an early age have greater success at learning to read in later stages of life. And learning to read effectively has increasingly become an indicator of accomplishment and fulfillment in the modern world.

The book packets presented to each newborn at the hospital are funded through the reading accomplishments of Washington County elementary students. The "Books for Babies" program sponsors a "Reading to Make Cents" contest in which students obtain sponsors to make pledges for every book they read during American Education Week, Nov. 15 to 22.

The effort supplies a double benefit by encouraging reading both at the very beginning of a baby's life and during later years of formal instruction in the school system. Local companies donate prizes for three winners at all participating elementary schools as well as four countywide grand prize levels. Each participant gets an individual prize as well.

Elementary school students can sign up sponsors from now through Nov. 22. For more information, call 301-791-5277.

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