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Book Harvest, ECU Health Medical Center prepare to provide books to families of newborns

ECU HEALTH | JUNE 14, 2024

Books from Birth, a Book Harvest program, will begin providing children’s books to families of babies born in Maynard Children’s Hospital at ECU Health Medical Center starting in summer 2024.

In preparation for the upcoming go-live, ECU Health hosted an event to educate team members at Maynard Children’s Hospital on Friday, June 14. Team members learned about Books from Birth, how these books can help families bond and improve early childhood education.

Book Harvest is an organization based in Durham that provides ongoing literacy support and an abundance of children’s books to families.

By partnering with Maynard Children’s Hospital, this collaboration will provide families and children in the East with the support and books they need to foster early language and reading routines at home from a baby’s very first days.

A volunteer fills a home library box for families of newborns during a Book Harvest event at Maynard Children's Hospital.

“The Books from Birth program is really designed to bridge early education and health,” said Book Harvest Chief Operating Officer Jeff Quinn. “Early literacy lays a foundation for life-long learning and healthy development. This program is meant to give children the opportunity to be what they want to be in life. We could not be more proud to help serve Pitt County and eastern North Carolina through this collaboration.”

N.C. House Rep. Tim Reeder, MD, District 9, secured funding of $500,000 for the project in the North Carolina State Budget. Rep. Reeder thanked Book Harvest and ECU Health for their willingness to partner on this important initiative. With his medical background in-mind, Rep. Reeder detailed the importance that early literacy has on the development of children as they grow, as well as the importance of improving access to education in eastern North Carolina.

“As a practicing physician, I see first-hand the benefits of early childhood literacy in terms of creating success in the classroom and in children’s behavior,” Rep. Reeder said. “Per data released from the state, about 50% of the children in Pitt County are not reading at grade-level. Early intervention and early reading is critically important to setting our children up for success. These books will help set families on a path to literacy that we know is really important to long-term development. I was proud to advocate for this funding and I am excited to see the impact this partnership will have.”

The Books from Birth program will provide a box of 10 board books, helpful reading education materials and a onesie for families who deliver babies in the Maynard Children’s Hospital.

“The benefit of giving these books at birth is that they help form loving and bonding relationships between babies and their caregivers,” said Dr. Matthew Ledoux, pediatrician in chief, ECU Health, chair of pediatrics, Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. “As a rural academic medical center serving a third of the state, it is incredibly valuable to get these books in the hands of families throughout eastern North Carolina. For that, we are very grateful.”

According to Tara Stroud, vice president, Women’s and Children’s Services, Maynard Children’s Hospital, the program will provide around 4,300 boxes of books to patients and families.

“This is our chance as a health system to change what it looks like for literacy in eastern North Carolina starting from the beginning,” said Stroud. “Our goal is that we demonstrate for our families the importance of books as a way to connect and bond with their child and improve their development.”


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