PHOENIX - Verizon SuperPages and Friends of Libraries U.S.A. (FOLUSA) have a special delivery for the 5,000 newborns expected at Maricopa Medical Center over the next year. Thanks to Verizon's signature literacy initiative, Books for Babies, new mothers will learn the importance of reading to their infants, how to cultivate an early interest in books and how to foster family literacy. Verizon and FOLUSA will roll out the Books for Babies program in nine other U.S. cities over the next 12 months.
"Children who are read to as babies are less likely to have trouble learning to read in school," said Ian Bennett, M.D., Ph.D., medical advisor for the Books for Babies program. "The bonding that takes place when a parent reads to a baby creates a positive association with books, leading to a healthy appetite for reading later in childhood and beyond."
The Books for Babies program gives parents a literacy tool kit, available in English or Spanish, that includes the baby-friendly book Peek-A-Boo! by Roberta Grobel Intrater, a "prescription" urging parents to read to their babies, a "Baby's First Library Card" and supplementary information with reading tips for new parents.
When a Books for Babies kit is delivered to a new mom, the community health practitioner also discusses the importance of reading aloud for the long-term health and development of the child.
"Including literacy education and counseling as part of post-partum maternity care illustrates for parents the link between literacy and health," said Maricopa Medical Center's chief of Labor and Delivery, J. Chris Carey, M.D. "The Verizon Books for Babies program gives mothers who have their babies at Maricopa the information and resources needed to build literacy skills in their babies' earliest developmental stages."
County officials, medical professionals and representatives from Verizon and FOLUSA kicked off the program today at the Maricopa Medical Center. Dr. Bennett, Department of Family Practice and Community Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, and Dr. Carey delivered the first Books for Babies packages to mothers and the babies born within the past 48 hours.
"Early interaction with books and reading is essential for healthy early childhood development," said Sally G. Reed, executive director for FOLUSA. "As part of this initiative, we will work with the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library to ensure that Maricopa's new parents know about their local literacy resources - the Phoenix area libraries, its collections and services."
The national Books for Babies program, made possible by a $238,000 grant from Verizon, will deliver 50,000 books to newborns and their mothers over the next year. A leading literacy advocate, Verizon has previously supported this type of program in Richmond, Va., Philadelphia, Honolulu and San Antonio, Texas.
Friends of Libraries U.S.A. provides networking opportunities and educational support for local Friends of Libraries groups across the country. Over 2,000 Friends groups, libraries and individuals belong to FOLUSA representing hundreds of thousands of library supporters. Founded in 1975, FOLUSA's mission is to motivate and support local Friends groups in their efforts to preserve and strengthen libraries, and to create awareness and appreciation of library services.
Verizon Information Services is the world's leading print and online directory publisher, a content provider for communications products and services, and the largest publisher of Hispanic directories in the U.S. With operations in 14 countries and annual revenues of more than $4.3 billion, Verizon Information Services publishes 1,200 U.S. Verizon SuperPages directories and nearly 400 international directories with a total circulation of approximately 156 million copies worldwide.
Based in the Dallas area, Verizon Information Services produces and markets SuperPages.com, the Internet's #1 online directory and shopping resource. SuperPages.com receives as many as 16 million visits and 10 million unique visitors a month and powers directory services on MSN, InfoSpace, Excite, Lycos, Univision.com, Terra.com, YupiMSN.com, Ask Jeeves, HotBot, BigFoot, Tripod and Angelfire as well as more than 2,500 affiliate Web sites.
The company supports computer literacy with philanthropic programs and through the Enlighten Me and Internet Learning Tutor sites on SuperPages.com. Enlighten Me is a fun site where children and their caregivers go to read, learn and explore. The Internet Learning Tutor is specifically designed for adults who are just learning their way around the Internet.
Verizon Information Services is a unit of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon Foundation last year awarded 22,000 grants totaling more than $70 million to nonprofit agencies that focus on improving basic and computer literacy, enriching communities through technology, and creating a skilled work force.