Beginning Jan. 1, 2001, the Southeast Missouri State University chapter of Phi Kappa Phi and Southeast Missouri Hospital have teamed up to launch the "Born to Read" program, a cooperative literacy effort that puts a new book into the hands of every newborn baby at Southeast Missouri Hospital.
Every newborn receives a new Little Golden Book upon his or her departure from the hospital. In addition and in cooperation with the local hospitals, Phi Kappa Phi Chapter 260 provides parents of each newborn with information on the importance of reading in a child's life and ways to make reading an essential part of their family life.
"Reading to children offers a multitude of life long benefits to children and parents," said Jeanine Larson Dobbins, past president of Phi Kappa Phi at Southeast and coordinator for the Missouri Statewide Early Literacy Intervention Program. "Numerous studies have shown that reading enhances a child's imaginative skills and learning skills, and we know that this project will encourage these benefits for the children and families in our area."
When the project first began, Southeast Hospital Chief Nursing Officer and Assistant Administrator Karen Hendrickson, EdD, RN, commented, "On behalf of Southeast Missouri Hospital, I want to express our gratitude to Phi Kappa Phi for this most generous gift to our newborns. We value our many partnerships with the University, and this new literacy project certainly appeals to us. It is in keeping with our own commitment to provide parents with valuable educational material and to give each child the best possible start in life."
After consultation with Southeast Missouri Hospital, Phi Kappa Phi set its sights on choosing an appropriate book for each newborn to receive. The organization considered various books for diversity issues, user-friendliness, quality and interactivity. Members also wanted the book to be fun for parents to read, Grueneberg said.
"We hope this is the beginning of a personal library for every new baby," Dobbins said.
Statistics show that children who are read to do better in school, are more likely to attend college and are more likely to read as adults. Children who have books in the home also are more likely to read.
"Phi Kappa Phi Chapter 260 wants to be responsible for encouraging children to read from the day they are born," hence the initiative Born to Read, Baldwin said.
However, books cost money, and Phi Kappa Phi continually conducts fund-raising efforts to help cover costs associated with purchasing the books. The organization seeks sponsors and tax-deductible donations from businesses, organizations and individuals to enable Phi Kappa Phi to buy at least one appropriate children's book for the approximately 1,600 babies born each year in Cape Girardeau.
Those interested in making a contribution to the "Born to Read" program are asked to make checks payable to the "Southeast Missouri University Foundation" and designated on the memo line for "Phi Kappa Phi Born to Read."
Checks may be sent to:
Southeast Missouri University Foundation
One University Plaza, MS 7300
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701