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Methodist Women’s Hospital Joins 170 Hospitals for Babies With Books Read-a-thon for NICU Infants

Published: Sept. 13, 2022

In honor of National Literacy Month, the Methodist Women’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has joined 170 hospitals across the United States and in four other countries to promote reading to babies in the NICU.

The annual Babies with Books Read-a-thon, which takes place Sept. 12-22, is a friendly international reading competition between families and NICUs. The read-a-thon works to encourage family reading, support infants and families, and build NICU morale – especially during the potentially isolating time of COVID-19. 

Parents in the NICU will track the number of times they read to their babies during the 11-day challenge. In 2021, 105 NICUs logged 6,000 reading sessions.

Methodist Women’s Hospital knows the importance of reading to babies, especially NICU babies, who are often at high risk for poor neurodevelopmental outcomes due to prematurity, critical illness, prolonged hospitalization and other stressors often related to a NICU stay.

Hospital staff, with the financial assistance of Methodist Hospital Foundation, implemented a NICU reading program in 2019. Families are provided with a new book each week to share with their baby and take home. During holidays or special events, each baby receives a themed book to commemorate the occasion. Books are also available in the family's native language.  

“Having a baby in the NICU can be so overwhelming,” said Jamie Hodges, service leader for the Methodist Women’s Hospital NICU. “We believe that reading to their child is something parents can do to help them navigate this journey. It’s an opportunity for parents to bond with their baby while also serving as a calming act for them and for their little one. Studies indicate that reading to babies can have a significant impact on development. That’s why we’re here: to do all we can, alongside the families, to help babies grow, develop and transition to home.”

The Methodist Women’s Hospital NICU library is always in need of books for families, and the Read-A-Thon also serves as an opportunity for donations. Those wishing to contribute may do so through Methodist Hospital Foundation’s Share Omaha page.