School system launches reading program for parents, newborns

Published 4:00 pm Friday, January 18, 2019

Beginning January 17, 2019, each newborn baby at Memorial Hospital will receive a take-home bag containing suggested reading materials, tips for encouraging brain and language development, and a little onesie bearing a Bearcat emblem.

Called a “Future Bearcat” initiative, it is a project of the Early Literacy Initiative of the Decatur County Schools System.

Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, Dr. April Aldridge, described the project as an effort to connect early with parents about the importance of reading to their children. And, what better time to start than at birth?

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Babies start learning as soon as they are born, and parents play a large part in helping their baby develop the language skills necessary to become a reader.

Aldridge cites a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics that states one in three American children start Kindergarten without the skills they need to learn to read.

Included in the bag are some tips for parents of babies and toddlers. Every bag also includes a children’s book to get them started.

Aldridge said a lot of families don’t have access to books, and that too is part of the school’s ongoing literacy program. A Literacy Bus travels into neighborhoods to  give away books.

On Friday morning, Dr. Aldridge presented the first Bearcat take home bag to Jessie Dodd, mother of newborn Brooklyn Renee Dodd, born January 17, 2019. Brooklyn’s dad is Jackson Dodd.

Aldridge says, “We would like to thank Memorial Hospital for partnering with us to help us reach families of our Future Bearcats.”