Business Number: 121391882RR0001

Read to Baby

Key Objectives

  •  Increase the capacity of Surrey Libraries to support early literacy in our community •    Help parents to nurture early literacy development and the joy of reading in their children’s lives •    Support children to enter Kindergarten ready to learn to read •    Ensure families benefit from free library services

What is the Read to Baby program?

Read to Baby (R2B) is a family literacy initiative that introduces parents of newborns to the benefits of early and frequent reading to infants.

The Read to Baby kit features:

  • a baby board book
  • music CD
  • booklet about how to build the pre-literacy skills a baby needs
  • information on the free services available at libraries.

Fraser Heath nurses identify and deliver these kits to vulnerable families in person.

Why do we need Read to Baby?

1/3 of Surrey’s children start kindergarten unprepared.

  • Results from UBC’s Human Early Learning Partnership (H.E.L.P) shows that 34% of Surrey’s children entering Kindergarten are not ready to learn. Read to Baby (R2B) is a family literacy initiative launched in 2014 to respond to this urgent need in our community.

Surrey’s child population is growing fast.

  • Surrey has the largest and fastest growing child population in BC. There are about 5000 babies born each year, or more than 12 babies born each day! Over 14,450 of Surrey’s children live in poverty.

Surrey’s families are spread out.

  • Surrey’s families are spread over 316 km2 - almost 3 times the area of Vancouver! The distance makes access to libraries and books much more challenging.

The Read to Baby program helps parents provide an environment that promotes emergent literacy. Families will know of free library services such as learning resources, literacy programs, and job search workshops. These services support whole family development which contributes to ending the cycle of low literacy.

Early Literacy

Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read and write. Stories, songs and rhymes are powerful mediums to promote the positive exchanges between parents and newborns that contribute to healthy childhood development and early learning Reading, talking, singing and having conversations with newborns are the best ways to build early language and literacy skills. These early skills are known to impact a child’s lifelong development. Research by The Council for Early Child Development tells us that newborn experiences matter. The relationship between caregiver and infant plays a pivotal role in influencing neural pathways for language and higher cognitive functions.

Are the kits produced in languages other than English?

Given the diversity of the population in Surrey, R2B kits are created in several languages; encouraging parents to use their first language with their new babies. This ensures that babies are provided with a rich and complex foundational language upon which they can learn English. R2B kits are currently available in English, French, and Punjabi. In addition, in 2016 we were excited to have the opportunity through the donor support of Amazon, to create specialized kits with an Aboriginal focus that features books and music that are culturally sensitive.

How can I help?

We are committed to ensuring the most vulnerable families benefit from this early literacy resource, and have created 1000 R2B kits each year with funding through donors. With the generous support of donors like you, we hope to grow this program so that one day every baby born in Surrey will receive a kit – that’s almost 5000 babies! Your gift will enable Surrey Libraries to meet the ever increasing early literacy needs of local families.

You can support literacy through Surrey Libraries by contacting our Director of Development, Cyndy Hill a