Books for Babies Bolstered By Grant

The popular Books for Babies campaign that provides each baby born at Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center in Fort Madison a book will continue thanks to a grant received by the Keokuk Education Association.

“We want to encourage families to read together early and often,” Diane Berner, Keokuk Community School District TAG program coordinator and kindergarten through third grade gifted education teacher, who submitted the grant application, said. “Books for Babies is a small start and we have wonderful local library services to support them.”

The association received the Iowa State Education Association Community Outreach Grant for the seventh year in a row to continue the campaign through 2024. The program also provides information about local library programs and parent tips for reading with their baby.

According to a 20-year study led by Mariah Evans, University of Nevada, Reno, having as few as 20 books in the home has a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education, and the more books added, the greater the benefit.

The books and library information are delivered to families by Briley Wildar, manager of the BirthPlace, and her department staff. Angela Budnik, director of marketing & communications at Great River Health, Monica Winkler, director of the Keokuk Public Library, and Merissa Lewiston all assisted with coordination and materials.

The Iowa State Education Association provides community outreach funds to encourage members and local associations to collaborate and create opportunities for community service or school projects. The funded projects should meet an identified need within the community, be sustainable and help build visible foundations for deeper relationships with students, families, and communities. ISEA’s mission is to “promote quality public education by placing students at the center of everything we do while advocating for education professionals.”

“We are thrilled to be able to continue this successful program with the support of KEA, ISEA, Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center, Fort Madison, and the Keokuk Public Library,” Berner said. “This is truly a community effort to improve literacy.”