STORK STORYTIME INITIATIVE: Reading to your baby during pregnancy

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NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (KWWL) – There can be many changes after a family welcomes a new baby.

But one program in Eastern Iowa is making sure reading remains a priority.

NOT YOUR TYPICAL LITERACY PROGRAM

Jennifer Jordebrek, the assistant director at North Liberty Community Library, created the Stork Storytime Initiative in 2015. Mercy Iowa City sponsors the program.

Many programs focus on reading after a baby is born. But this program is different because it helps expecting families create reading routines during pregnancy.

Lifelong literacy habits can start early, even when a baby is still in the womb. The program believes it’s never too late to begin reading.

“You’re able to just connect with the baby, and they can hear your voice and can get used to it and the rhythms and then when they’re born, it’s comforting to them,” expecting mother Heather Trana explained.

Bringing home a newborn is often chaotic. Reading may not be a priority.

“If you can develop that routine before when you have more time, there’s more calm,” Jordebrek said. “There’s bonding that goes on when you’re reading to your baby.”

A FAMILY EFFORT

The Stork Storytime Initiative empowers parents to become their child’s first teachers. Jordebrek said it’s the first of its kind across the country.

One program under the initiative, called ‘100 Read Alouds,’ encourages families to read 100 books to their baby. There are checkpoints along the way, and once they finish the challenge, they get special books.

“The last time we read a story it was funny,” Trana said with a smile. “The baby started kicking right away. It was like it knew or something, so it’s fun.”

Researchers say reading to your baby while you’re pregnant has many benefits.

“It gives [parents] the opportunity to practice reading out loud,” Jordebrek said. “Current children – the siblings in the household – we also encourage them to read so they can practice their literacy skills.”

When families develop a reading routine, they’re able to bond together.

“They need to start that feeling of being a family. Dad or the other parent needs to feel like a family. Grandparents can get involved,” President of the Mercy Hospital Foundation, Margaret Reese said.

The goal of the initiative is to ensure babies are off to a strong start: one book at a time.

“We are laying that foundation, that tone and expectation that reading at home is important and valued,” Jordebrek explained.

LOOKING FORWARD

Jordebrek said her goal is for other libraries across the country to adopt the initiative.

For more information about Stork Storytime, visit: https://northlibertylibrary.org/adult/stork-storytime/

Olivia Schmitt

Olivia Schmitt

Morning Reporter at KWWL
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