Carter Schools to give book to each baby born at Sycamore Shoals

  By Lesley Hughes
  star staff
  lhughes@starhq.com  
  Carter County School System is teaming up with Sycamore Shoals Hospital to raise parental awareness about the importance of reading to children beginning at birth.
  K-4 Supervisor Peggy Campbell spearheaded the program which involves presenting The Lucy Cousins Book of Nursery Rhymes to all newborns delivered at Sycamore Shoals Hospital. Campbell said she got the idea after attending an inservice that discussed the importance of reading to children at young ages.
  Carter County School Board members approved the yearly cost of $1,885.50 for the 450 books that will be presented to each new baby.
  Director of Schools Dallas Williams and Campbell presented baby Mason Egolf with his nursery rhyme book when he was less than two hours old. He was born at 8:13 a.m. to Brian and Ashley Egolf, of Stoney Creek. Big brother, Alijah, 5, showed more excitement about the book than Mason did, but for a two-hour-old newborn, Mason was wide awake for his family to admire.
  The Egolf family was the lucky family to have their book given to them by Williams, but a few families received their books from Sycamore Shoals nurses after the program was started a couple weeks ago.
  Nurse Manager Barb Leduc said all the parents who have received the books were excited about the program and she even witnessed some parents reading to their new babies shortly after birth.
  The book was chosen for its colorful drawings and variety of well known and lesser known children's rhymes. Inside the cover is a letter from the Carter County School Board, Williams, and Campbell. The letter explains the importance of reading to children by saying, "Vera Propp stated, 'All babies are born equal. Not one can ... speak, count, read, or write at birth ... But by the time they go to kindergarten they are not equal.'
  "One of the prime predictors of a child's school success or failure is their vocabulary. Yes, the child goes to school to learn new words, but the words he or she already knows will determine how much of what the teacher says will be understood. The best way to help your chid start to school ready to be successful is to start reading aloud to them now. I could go on and on about the importance of reading aloud to your child, but I know you would rather be admiring the wonderful new addition to your family," the letter reads.
  Sycamore Shoals Hospital agreed to hand out the book to each new baby upon delivery.