In an effort to promote literacy in young children, HCA Houston Healthcare is launching a program with the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation to provide new parents with resources to help their infants start gaining reading skills, according to a release from HCA.

The gist

Titled “Raising a Reader,” the program will give new parents a set of materials, according to the release. Those materials include:
  • An indestructible book
  • A letter
  • Information on activities that can be done
  • A list of 100 recommended books to read to their infant
  • A library card for the Harris County Public Library system
The program will also ask parents to read to their infant for at least 15 minutes each day, according to the release.

The details

“Raising a Reader” is a pilot program launched in November as part of “National Family Literacy Awareness Month” and will run through the rest of the calendar year, according to the release. However, the hope is to expand the program further in 2024 and beyond.

Throughout the rest of 2023, HCA Houston Healthcare’s Clear Lake and West campuses will provide materials to 920 families and their newborns, officials said. Those resources are made available through the Young Professionals Group, which is under the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation.

To promote the program further, HCA will display program content on closed-circuit monitors in labor and delivery rooms to provide new parents with information about early literacy, how to promote it and what children should be able to do by age 2, the release states.

Hospital staff will also consult new parents on the program.

What they’re saying

In the first year of a child’s life, their brain will double in size, and it will be 90% of its adult size by the time the child is 5 years old, said Julie Baker Finck, president and CEO of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, in the release.

“While a pilot project right now, we are committed to scaling up this initiative as quickly as possible, because we know how vital it is to educate and empower parents to be their child’s first teachers,” Finck said in the release.

Todd Caliva, CEO at HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake, said in the release the initiative is a “profound commitment” to ensuring children in the community have the best start in life.

“We believe that by nurturing early literacy and fostering healthy brain development in our community's youngest members, we're sowing the seeds for a brighter future for our next generation,” Caliva said in the release.