Read to Me!

“Healthy Child Development” Grant

2004 2008

There is no underestimating the impact of literacy upon young minds. For infants and children alike, reading engages, soothes, entertains and presents a world of possibilities and opportunities. As young minds develop, the capacity to read is a fundamental skill, and is vital to better education, income, quality of life and self-esteem.

However, in Atlantic Canada statistics suggest that upwards of 52% (International Adult Literacy Survey, 1994) of the population have limited literacy skills or struggle with reading. Given these circumstances, the province-wide Read to Me! initiative waslaunched in 2002 to help break cycles of low literacy by distributing a free bag of literacy resources at all 11 hospitals that provide maternity services to the family of every baby born or adopted in Nova Scotia.

Within 24 hours of a baby’s birth, the family is given a Read to Me! bag, which includes three high quality baby books, a reading development guide, information about free library programs and a music and rhyme CD. The materials are available in English, French, Chinese, Arabic, and Mi’kmaq and are aimed at encouraging reading, talking and singing to babies, while establishing a routine of positive and emotional interaction that benefits all those involved. Given the province averages 10,000 births per year, the program is manageable thanks to the contributions of so many partner organizations.

In 2004, the Foundation provided its first grant to help support the cost of running the program and its expansion throughout the province. Naturally, the ongoing benefits of this program will have a remarkable influence as the years go on, helping new generations of Nova Scotians share in the wonder of literacy – both among themselves and with those generations that follow.