Spencer Hoger, just one day old, is the 7573rd baby to get a headstart on his literacy journey.
His parents Amanda and Luke Hoger, received a literacy starter pack as part of the Books for Babies project.
Initially run in only one month each year, the program was launched in 2007 by the Friends of Ipswich Libraries (FOILS). Between 2007 and 2016, more than 2,000 packs were provided to new born babies in Ipswich. In 2016, Ipswich City Council committed to funding the remaining 11 months of the year to support early literacy and since that time, an additional 5572 packs have been handed out.
The pack includes a carry bag, illustrated board book, It’s Rhyme Time booklet and DVD, and information on the importance of developing the literacy of children by reading to them as babies, library brochures including a library membership application & Story Time bookmark and an application for the Ipswich Commemorative Birth Certificate.
Arts, Social Development and Community Engagement chief operating officer Caroline McMahon congratulated both the hospitals and the Friends of Ipswich Libraries for their commitment to the initiative.
“There is a wealth of evidence to support that reading aloud to children from a young age has a positive impact on their ability to learn to read and therefore their literacy skills,” Ms McMahon said.
“The Books for Babies initiative is a highly worthwhile local program which has the potential to deliver real literacy outcomes within the Ipswich region.
“Both Ipswich Hospital and St Andrews Hospitals have embraced the project and expressed a willingness to see this initiative continue as an annual event.”
Friends of Ipswich Libraries (FOILS) vice president Eirys Jones said a dedicated group of volunteers pack the literacy bags once a month.
“Books open the world of the imagination. You can enter a space where dreams come true,” Ms Jones said.
“It all begins with being cuddled by mummy or daddy, feeling all warm and safe and listening to that familiar voice read from a book. It is the very best start in life. Everyone wins and it is so easy.”