Getting books into New Zealand’s homes is the main aim of the Storytime Foundation, a nationwide organisation that promotes literacy and bonding over books between parents and children.
In October the Tui Ora Mama Mama Pēpe Tamariki Ora team started working with the Storytime Foundation in Whaitara to deliver free books to whānau as part of its Books for Babies programme.
The programme targets families with babies from third trimester through to three years, and delivers five free books at different stages in the baby’s development from newborn through to toddler. The first book is a soft fabric cot book suitable for a young baby but the range also includes well known favourites like Hairy Maclary for older children.
The books are delivered to Tamariki Ora nurses who hand deliver them to clients.
Tamariki Ora nurse, Gaylene Corry says the books have had a fantastic reception from clients:
“Many of the whānau we are dealing with are from poorer homes. There simply isn’t money for books but the kids love them and it gives the parents an opportunity to read to their children.”
To ensure that the books are accessible for as many New Zealanders as possible, transalations are available in Māori, English, Tongan, Samoan, Niue, Cook Island Māori, Fijian, Tokelau and Chinese.
Extensive research by the Storytime Foundation proves that reading to a baby, even before they are born will help with the baby’s cognitive development. A child that is read to as a newborn is more likely to have a larger vocabulary, as well as more advanced mathematical skills. There is also a direct link between how many words a baby hears each day and their language skills.
Reading to a child is also a key driver of early attachment, creating a strong bond between caregiver and child that is likely to improve literacy and outcomes for whānau.
Tui Ora is currently working with 100 whānau in the Whaitara area but there is scope to expand the collaboration with Storytime Foundation to other areas of Taranaki.
The Storytime Foundation has been operating in Aotearoa for 18 years, has distributed nearly 113,000 books and assisted more than 21,000 families. For more information please see their website(external link)