Babies born in Roanoke get free books thanks to local non-profit
ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - A local organization is trying to get parents to read to their children from birth.
"We were in the NICU for a very long time," says Lauren Ellerman, who gave birth to a daughter three months early.
Maggie weighed just one pound six ounces and spent months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
"I remember reading to her through the Isolette of the bed right behind me and feeling awkward that I was reading out loud in a room full of 12 parents and 12 babies so I stopped doing it," said Ellerman who started Turn the Page, a non-profit that gives free books to new parents at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, giving them a way to bond with their babies. "In the NICU you don't know if your baby is going to be healthy, if your baby's going to live, it's a tough place. To have that ability to say to a parent 'You get to be a parent here, you get to hold your child and read to him just like you would at home' I think that's an amazing impact."
New mom Monica Flora gets two books-- Are You My Mother and Roanoke Baby.
"Roanoke babies love the outdoors in every season." says Flora as she reads to newborn Annabella, pointing out the Taubman Museum and other landmarks pictured in the book. "I hope that it helps to increase her imagination and I hope that it helps with her creativity and just feels her mind with lots of fun ideas and things to do."
The hospital is a good place to touch all families early no matter their background and books are available in English and Spanish.
"A lot of the research out right now shows that brain development and exposure to words has a huge impact on life success, high school graduation, college acceptance rates but it starts from 0 to 2 so by the time kids get to kindergarten in some respects it's too late, the brain development has already happened," said Ellerman.
"It means the world to me just to see the mommies faces when I come in," said Lucia Driscoll, a Carilion Clinic medical interpreter who helps deliver the books.
Turn the Page has the goal of giving up to ten books to every child born in Roanoke by the time they are 2-years old by putting postcards in the books families get in the hospital. Families can then request the free books.
You can make a donation of books or find out more information on the Turn the Page facebook page.
Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved