The Born To Read program began as a part of Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry and became an independent 501© 3 program in 2008. The mission of Born To Read is “to promote early childhood literacy and language development, while helping new parents understand their critical role as their child’s first and most important teacher”. Born to Read’s Executive Director Janie Ephland schedules Volunteers six days a week to go to birthing centers at Beaufort Memorial, Hilton Head, and Coastal Carolina Hospitals, and presents a resource bag to all new moms. The resource bag has information on the importance of reading and talking to a new baby to help develop their vocabulary and language skills so they will be prepared to enter school. A quarterly newsletter is then sent to each family to give additional suggestions and age appropriate activities for their children until they reach 15 months of age.
Each resource bag has a board book for the baby, a rhyming book with reading tips/strategies, a list of community pediatricians, a four page reference for community resources for children and families, a Born To Read tee shirt to remind families to talk to their children while dressing them and doing daily activities. Volunteers also gather information from families that may be interested in adult education (GED or English) to assist in making a referral on their behalf to the appropriate agency. Applications are for a Beaufort Public Library card are also offered to encourage families to take advantage of the library services.
Born to Read is a free service to parents and all materials are in both English and Spanish. It is a United Way funded agency and is also funded through grants and donations. Sponsoring partners are the Beaufort County School District, Beaufort County Library, and the Hilton Head, Beaufort Memorial and Coastal Carolina hospitals, Community Foundation of the Lowcountry and Coastal Community Foundation (Beaufort Fund).