Tuskarawas County Public Library wants to expand Free Newborn Book Program

The Tuskarawas County Public Library plans to expand its newborn book program.

The First Steps to Literacy: Books for Babies Trust Fund was established in 2008 to provide every newborn in Tuskarawas County with a book. Each year, 90% of the fund’s interest income is used to purchase books, and the remaining interest and funds are reinvested for use in subsequent years.

According to library director Michelle McMorrow-Ramsel, it is important to start reading to children at an early age.

“So much of a child’s brain development happens in these early years, and that includes these early literacy skills,” McMorrow-Ramsell said.

This year, the foundation donated 50 books to children born at the Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital in Dover. Half of the books they donated this year were bilingual.

“We definitely want to make sure this is a very inclusive program and that it includes everyone in our community,” McMorrow-Ramsell said. “And it’s really important for us to serve our Hispanic families as well as our non-Hispanic families.”

The foundation was founded by New Philadelphia native Betty Lou Honaker, who worked as a school librarian for many years. She passed away earlier this year, and the library is still trying to fulfill her dream of giving a book to every newborn in the area.

“We have not yet been able to meet her long-term goal of providing a book to every child born and living in Tuskarawas County,” McMorrow-Ramsell said.

The library hopes to start a partnership process with other community hospitals next year to try and achieve this goal, according to public relations specialist Megan Kovalske-Grimm.

“Not every baby that lives in Tuskarawas County is born in Tuskarawas County, so we are trying to make these connections with other nearby hospitals to be able to work with them to deliver a book to the people of these areas when they bring a newborn home. “, said Kovalske-Grimm.

McMorrow-Ramsell hopes that through these connections and additional donations, they can continue to expand the program to serve even more of the county’s residents.

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