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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

Book Harvest and ECU Health Medical Center announce partnership to provide books to families of newborns

Program funded by NC General Assembly to improve early childhood literacy and overall well-being

Books from Birth, a Book Harvest program and part of our Early Literacy System of Care, will begin providing books to families of babies born in Maynard Children’s Hospital at ECU Health Medical Center starting in the spring of 2024. The partnership was announced on Thursday, December 21, 2023 at the hospital.

The 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.

“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, which was presented in check form to the ECU Health Foundation. In his remarks on the 21st, 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.

Jeff Quinn (L), Rep. Tim Reeder, MD (R)

“As a practicing physician, I see first-hand the benefits of early childhood literacy in terms 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.”

While key details are still being determined, 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 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.”

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