Salt Lake City–Intermountain Healthcare is donating 6,000 books to at-risk children. The donation supports organizations in Utah dedicated to childhood literacy and development, including the Salt Lake County Health Department and the Reach Out and Read program.
“Community organizations will receive books, as will our pediatric clinics and newborn intensive care units, so we can encourage reading to children right from the beginning,” said Mikelle Moore, Intermountain senior vice president of Community Health.
Intermountain’s Community Giving program provided funding for nearly four thousand books, while Intermountain leaders from across the system contributed an additional 2,100 books. Donations included familiar titles such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Goodnight Moon, and Where the Wild Things Are. Nearly 30 percent of all donated titles were printed in languages other than English.
The Salt Lake County Health Department received books in support of their home visitation programs. “We provide approximately 4,500 visits per year,” said Kami Peterson, assistant division director of Family Health. “A lot of the families that we visit…in Salt Lake County are low-income families and don’t have access to books. Being able to give them a book and talk about literacy is really important.”
Caroline Moreno, education program manager with Salt Lake County Human Services, was optimistic about the impact the donation will have on the community. “Reading to a kid when they’re just born, when they’re five years old, when they’re 10 years old, is super important for brain development,” she said.
The research agrees with her. A 2016 study found that 3-year-olds whose parents read to them from an early age were significantly less likely to be aggressive or hyperactive. Follow up research determined the positive effects persisted as those children were entering kindergarten. Children whose families continued to read to them were less likely to have behavioral problems or experience trouble with concentration, key indicators of success in school.
Reach Out and Read, a nonprofit organization that incorporates books into pediatric care, will also receive supplies. The organization’s 34 Utah locations, roughly half of which operate out of Intermountain clinics, serve about 41,000 children annually