Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation (GBBF) and Rutherford Books from Birth’s local sustaining partner, United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, celebrate the launch of a new birthing hospital partnership with Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital Tuesday afternoon to begin enrolling newborn babies into Tennessee’s Imagination Library program.
Through this partnership, each family of a newborn child will be given the opportunity to enroll in Tennessee’s Imagination Library and will then begin receiving one book per month mailed to the child’s home, at no cost to the family. Each child enrolled in the program prior to hospital discharge, will receive a gift of the first Imagination Library book, The Little Engine That Could, as a tangible example of the wonderful books that will arrive each month until the child reaches age five.
Tennessee’s Imagination Library program is made available to all Tennessee children, from birth to age five, through a unique, three-way partnership between GBBF, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, and a local affiliate program in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties. To emphasize the benefits of reading with children beginning at birth, GBBF launched the birthing hospital initiative in 2014, partnering with hospitals across the state to introduce Tennessee’s Imagination Library program to families of newborns. This local partnership with Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital was made possible by a generous grant from the Christy-Houston Foundation.
“Literacy and reading proficiency are essential for a child’s education and future, and early exposure to books has been proven to be a key factor in long-term educational success,” GBBF President Theresa Carl said. “Our goal is to have partnerships with birthing hospitals like Saint Thomas Rutherford all across the state of Tennessee, giving children the chance to experience the joy of books and reading from the moment they enter this world.”
“We are so proud to be partnered in this invaluable effort which will present the youth of our community with tools to launch their education and imagination,” said Gordon Ferguson, President and CEO, Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital. “We’re honored to support the mission of GBBF, the Imagination Library and the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, and we’re excited to inspire the newest members of Rutherford county with a love for reading.”
The mission of the Christy-Houston Foundation is to enhance the quality of life in Rutherford County, Tenn., with emphasis on health care, through distribution of its grant resources to programs and projects that will accomplish such enhancement. The Foundation recognizes that the quality of life is greatly enhanced when young children have the opportunity to learn to read at a very young age.
“The time that parents spend with their children reading to them and encouraging their child’s own reading skills as they get older enriches their life and gives them confidence in their own abilities,” said the Christy-Houston Foundation. “Christy-Houston is particularly excited about partnering with St. Thomas Rutherford, the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, and the Governors Books from Birth Foundation in ensuring that every child born at St. Thomas Rutherford, regardless of economic station in life, will be enrolled and receive The Little Engine That Could before they are discharged from the hospital.”
Rutherford Books from Birth began in 2006 and has delivered more than 1 million books to children in the community. Currently, 57.6% of all children under age five living in Rutherford County are enrolled in the program and receive books each month. Each month Rutherford Books from Birth delivers more than 11,000 books to children.
“This partnership is at the heart of our mission, which is to improve lives by advancing opportunities for education, health, and financial stability for all,” said Meagan Flippin, CEO of United Way of Rutherford & Cannon Counties. “Literacy is a key factor in an individual’s success in life, and the opportunity to provide the Books from Birth program in Rutherford and Cannon counties through United Way is a responsibility we take seriously. The support of and partnership with Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital and the Christy-Houston Foundation leverages our ability to reach more families and ensure that more children start kindergarten on a level playing field.”