In 2019 the Friends took on a new challenge: to fund the Strathcona County Library’s Welcome Baby early literacy initiative on an annual basis. To do this, we need to raise about $6,000 each year to cover the cost of the 300-400 kits given out each year to new babies born to County residents. Each kit consists of a book bag, a board book, a rhyme booklet, and information on the benefits of the Library’s early literacy program.

Friends and Library Staff show off the Welcome Baby kit.

Since 2014, this initiative welcomes new babies and families to the library, encourages parents to bond with their baby over books, rhymes and songs, and to share with new parents all the ways the library can support their family for years to come. As a result, new parents begin reading to their children and build a life-long reading habit. Many families also regularly attend the library’s children’s programs.

These activities during the first crucial years of life can have a beneficial effect on a baby’s brain and social development, and sets the foundation for how a child will mature as an individual and a citizen. It creates a strong base for language, vocabulary, and literacy skills that are necessary for later success in school and life. Being exposed to reading from an early age also encourages a love for reading and libraries that lasts throughout their life.

Welcome Baby Kits are provided at a baby’s second immunization at Strathcona County Health Centre as well as at the Library, the bookmobile, and on Alberta Health Services New Moms Network Tours at the Library.

Throughout the coming years, you will often see this initiative referred to in our fundraising programs. We hope you will continue to support us as we support early literacy at the Strathcona County Library and in Strathcona County.