It's a simple gesture, but providing a book for a new baby builds community between the library, schools and families.
Is there anything sweeter than a new baby? The arrival of a new child is always cause for excitement — especially because it means there is a new reader to welcome into the world!
With a Welcome New Baby Program, your library can provide a book for a new baby while gently reminding families about the importance of promoting literacy from the earliest years of life. In addition, by acknowledging the arrival of a new family member, you also help to build community between the library, the school and the school families.
How to prepare
You’ll need just a few items: books and gift bags are essential, and perhaps you can stockpile some decorative baby stickers, bookmarks, or even a few odds and ends such as small packs of crayons or pencils. Look for inexpensive gift bags to keep on hand. They don’t have to be pink or blue; plain bags work well and can be easily decorated with baby stickers found at craft stores.
More importantly, you’ll need books! Be on the lookout for new books that are suitable for a baby and try to keep a small stash at the ready. Some of my favorites include:
- "Everywhere Babies" by Susan Meyers
- "Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes" by Mem Fox
- "Here We Are" by Oliver Jeffers
- "Time for Bed" by Mem Fox
- "All the World" by Liz Scanlon
- "Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals" by Mo Willems
- "Tomie DePaola's Mother Goose" by Tomie DePaola
The books don’t have to be expensive or hardback. If you host a book fair, there might be a few titles that would work.
Low on funds? You can look for freebies at library conferences, or your school’s parent teacher association might provide funds for such a literary endeavor. Check for books on sale at discount stores; inexpensive board books are often sold there.
Presenting the gift to the sibling
Once you learn that a child at your school has become a big sister or brother, invite the older sibling to the library. Write a simple message on the outside of a gift bag, (such as “Welcome Maria!”) and invite the older sibling to add a few decorative stickers to the gift bag. If you don’t have stickers, the older sibling might like to add a drawing or a welcome message.
Next, invite the older sibling to select a book from your stash; this will become the gift book to the new baby. This step is especially important because you want to encourage the big sibling’s role as a reader for the new baby.
Once the book is selected, place a label inside the book that mentions both the school and/or library. Possible wording could be:
Finally, snap a photo of the older sibling holding the gift bag, such as the one shown above. You are sure to capture an image of a child with a big grin — because connecting babies and books always brings a smile.
And now, for the research
Though a Welcome New Baby may seem like a simple program, it can play a significant role in the development of readers. In "The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research," author Stephen D. Krashen points to research that access to books is the single greatest factor in becoming a reader.
In some cases, the book you provide may be the only book the new baby owns. By providing a book to a new baby, you deliver the message that the joy of reading is possible for everyone in the community, even its newest arrivals.
"It is a great thing to start life with a small number of books which are your very own." — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle