Fort Campbell, Kentucky –
Blanchfield Army Community Hospital is participating in a program that provides a new book, free, each month for babies from birth until age five from a non-profit child literacy program offered in Tennessee and parts of Kentucky designed to expose even the youngest children to reading.
A registration card is available in the patient admission packet each new mother receives during her stay on the hospital’s Mother Baby Unit. Parents simply complete the card and return it to their nurse before discharge and a hospital volunteer will enter their enrollment information into the system. BACH is one of a number of hospitals in Tennessee and the only known military hospital participating in a birthing hospital initiative where parents are offered enrollment in the books from birth program before ever leaving the hospital.
“From that initiative we’ve enrolled some 28,000 children,” said Dean Hoskins, vice president of Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, which administers Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program for the state of Tennessee. Imagination Library is a non-profit program that delivers a free book each month to the homes of participating children from birth to age five.
“We wanted to catch children at birth and wanted parents to understand how important those first three years are, specifically with brain development around vocabulary, and to begin reading to that child from birth. It really is important for a child to hear words,” said Hoskins.
Hoskins said 24 hospitals and counting across the state participate in the birthing hospital initiative.
“Starting in infancy, talking, singing, and reading books out loud together helps develop language and phonics skills, sparks curiosity and imagination, and helps develop strong bonds between parents and children,” said Maj. Suzanne M. Wical, a pediatrician and chief of pediatrics for BACH. “Research shows that parents who read to their children help promote not only language skills but also increase academic performance and social development. This time together should be special and individual to you and your child.”
No matter where the books come from, Wical recommends parents read together every day with their young children, even if it is only for a few minutes.
“Make the time fun, let your child choose the book, and engage them in the story and illustrations. Point to and identify objects, colors, and shapes, and follow your child's lead. You'll be amazed at the results,” said Wical.
While the birthing hospital initiative is designed to reach newborns, all families assigned to Fort Campbell with children under age five are eligible to participate in the free program. Families who are not currently enrolled in the program may check their eligibility and enroll at https://imaginationlibrary.com/
Families who enroll in the program should receive a new book each month, eight to 10 weeks after their initial enrollment.