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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

What is Book Babies, anyway?

By Benay Hicks January 27, 2022

Book Babies, one of Book Harvest’s signature programs, launched in Durham County in 2013 to provide free literacy support to families of Medicaid eligible children. An evidence-informed literacy coaching partnership, Book Babies begins when a baby is born and is sustained over five years.

Throughout the duration of the program, families receive quarterly customized literacy coaching and 20 new, age appropriate books every year from birth until their children start kindergarten. Trained literacy coaches work with parents to develop their skills and confidence by providing them with the information and resources needed to develop the foundation for learning and reading success. Together, they set goals for the Book Baby, mark their progress as they prepare for school, and help ensure that they start kindergarten ready to learn.



Book Babies consists of three evidence-based activities:

#1 Book Provision – Books are provided to the family at the very first meeting, and each Book Baby receives approximately 20 age and developmentally appropriate, culturally relevant books per year.

#2 Literacy Coaching – Trained literacy coaches partner with parents to model dialogic reading. Dialogic reading promotes interactive reading, language skills development, and early literacy skills.

#3 Family Engagement – Families are actively engaged in visits (in-home and virtual) with trained literacy coaches who work one-on-one with them over five full years forming trusted relationships.


With 80% of brain development occurring in the first three years, a home literacy environment and access to books starting at birth are essential to kindergarten readiness and long-term school success. By the time a child graduates from Book Babies and starts kindergarten, she will have a home library of 100+ books lining a custom-built bookshelf, and her parents will have received 16+ literacy coaching home visits.

Families also have the opportunity to receive $100 deposited into a Bright Futures college and career savings account for each year their child participates in Book Babies (up to $500). Additional benefits include a $5 annual membership to the Museum of Life & Science in Durham, parent networking opportunities, and individualized coaching to help navigate the transition to Pre-K, kindergarten, and beyond. A graduation ceremony is held for all Book Babies upon completion of their 5th year.



“I love that my coach informs me on other questions when I have them. She also reassures me in my tactics.” Book Babies Parent

“Thanks to this program, my daughter likes reading. Even I am thrilled to receive new books and to be able to read them with my daughter.” Book Babies Parent

Enrollment is currently open for the Book Babies program. Families with Medicaid eligible newborns younger than 15 weeks who live in Durham County can apply at bookharvest.org/book-babies. A Book Babies team member can also be reached via call or text at 919-907-0998 and by emailing bb@bookharvest.org.


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