Brooklyn Reads to Babies - It's Not Just Baby Talk!

November 4, 2005

Brooklyn Reads to Babies – It’s Not Just Baby Talk!

New literacy campaign for parents and caregivers of babies and toddlers

To celebrate the launch of Brooklyn Reads to Babies (BRTB), an early literacy campaign developed by Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), its Central Library at Grand Army Plaza will host a kick-off event on Wednesday, November 9th at 6:30 PM, in the second floor meeting room. The event will include the Brooklyn debut of the award-winning short film, Reading With Babies, introduced by creator Susan Straub, reading tips and tricks for parents and caregivers, a raffle, and complimentary snacks, books and goodie bags.

BRTB is a new early literacy campaign geared towards parents and caregivers of babies and toddlers to stress the importance of reading to children during their first years of life. The goal of this campaign is to reach every family in Brooklyn with children from birth to age two with the message that reading to babies can make a vital difference in their language development and their readiness for school.

"Reading, singing and talking to babies helps their brains to develop," says Ginnie Cooper, Executive Director of Brooklyn Public Library. "BPL offers board books, computers and First Five Years spaces for the very youngest ones. We want to help parents and caretakers get their babies engaged and ready to interact in life."

Programs BPL offers dedicated to this age-group include Babies and Books, where babies and their caregiver listen to stories, sing songs and learn rhymes, and Story Play, an informal time to share stories and discover new toys.  Many neighborhood libraries also offer Toddler Reading is Fundamental (RIF), a program unique to BPL that provides free books to babies and toddlers. Many of these programs occur in "First Five Years" spaces with child-sized furniture, rugs so toddlers can crawl around, computers with learning software and a large collection of board books that facilitate language and brain development.

"By reading with babies, you are teaching them the sounds, rhythms, and vocabulary of human speech," says Rachel Payne, Coordinator of Preschool Services for BPL. “Participating in reading activities together will also teach them that books are important, books have information, and that books are fun!”

To ensure good reading habits are fostered outside of the library as well, BPL produced a brochure, available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Haitian Creole and Arabic, that offers reading tips and suggested booklists so all borough residents are able to receive this important message. They are available at all BPL libraries, and through community partners such as the Day Care Council, Child Development Support Corporation, the NYC Dept. of Health Newborn Home Visiting Program and Reach Out and Read, a program for doctors to prescribe reading to young children.

This same helpful information can also be accessed 24 hours a day via a site that BPL is launching Monday, November 7th at

Judy Zuckerman, Assistant Director of the office of Neighborhood Services is happy that BPL spearheaded this important initiative. "Libraries are the ideal resource for families to find books and information on reading to babies. Just about everyone in Brooklyn lives within walking distance of a public library, and we provide a welcoming, nurturing, safe environment for children and their families to come to share the joys of reading."

Brooklyn Public Library is launching this campaign with 11 kickoff events from November through January at neighborhood libraries including East Flatbush, Williamsburgh, Crown Heights and Sunset Park.

Brooklyn Reads to Babies is a key campaign of The First Five Years initiative at BPL. This innovative BPL initiative covers a broad spectrum of early literacy programs and services for children birth through age five, and is available at all of BPL's 60 neighborhood libraries, to make an even greater difference in the lives of children during their early years.

The First Five Years initiative at Brooklyn Public Library is made possible by a generous grant from an anonymous donor. BPL is also appreciative of the generous support provided by the Altman Foundation.

Additional support for Brooklyn Reads to Babies has been provided by Astoria Federal Savings and Target.

For a complete list of kick-off events, to schedule an interview with Ginnie Cooper, Rachel Payne or Judy Zuckerman, or for more information, please contact Ruth A. Wagner, Publicist at 718.230.2211.

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Brooklyn Public Library is an independent New York City library system serving the borough of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest in the United States. Its Central Library, Business Library, and 58 neighborhood libraries offer free information, programs and computer access to people of all ages. You can reach the Library's resources of over 70 reference databases, catalog information and news 24 hours a day at