Upcoming Events View All
23
Festival Sunday (Fasching Sonntag)

Sunday, 02/23/2020 at 11:30 AM - 5:00 PM

27
Life in the Spirit Seminar - St. Ann Normandy

Thursday, 02/27/2020 at 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

29
Lenten Mission

Saturday, 02/29/2020 at 6:30 PM -
Wednesday, 03/04/2020 at 8:00 PM

3
Lenten Movie Nights - Tuesdays in March

Tuesday, 03/03/2020 at 7:00 PM

3
6
Donna Cori live in concert "The Way of the Cross"

Friday, 03/06/2020 at 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

6
Holy Hour for priestly and religious vocations

Friday, 03/06/2020 at 7:00 PM

7
Rummage sale

Saturday, 03/07/2020 at 7:00 AM - 12:00 PM

7
Mother/Son Dance

Saturday, 03/07/2020 at 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

10
Show Me Life Action Day in Jefferson City

Tuesday, 03/10/2020 at 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Richard Nix, right, began Books for Newborns with several other people to address the connection between a lack of literacy and poverty. The nonprofit provides low-income mothers with a free tote bag filled with four new books, along with resources to help mothers bond with their children.
Richard Nix, right, began Books for Newborns with several other people to address the connection between a lack of literacy and poverty. The nonprofit provides low-income mothers with a free tote bag filled with four new books, along with resources to help mothers bond with their children.
Photo Credit: Sid Hastings

Social change through the bond of books

Books for Newborns seeks to reduce poverty by increasing literacy

In his work with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Richard Nix saw firsthand the realities of life among people in need.

One Sunday at Mass at St. Francis Xavier (College) Church, he watched as two families in front of him interacted in a loving way with their toddler children. He recalled one of the children with a book in the pew and how he read aloud the word “truck.”

He thought about the families in poverty that he’s served and the importance of beginning that bond between parent and child from an early age. The idea transformed into bonding through books.

A card encouraging new parents to hold and read to their children is included with every package of books distributed by the group Books for Newborns. The group’s goal is to help each family establish what Richard Nix describes as a “preschool,” meaning that mothers are given tools to better bond with their babies and improve their own literacy skills — which in turn has an impact on family life.
Photo Credits: Sid Hastings
“I’ve always believed you’ve got to have a strong foundation,” said Nix. “When we need to start reading is when they’re newborns, not when they’re six months old. We’ve got to be early.”

Thus began Books for Newborns. The nonprofit organization was started a year-and-a-half ago by Nix and several others who wanted to address the connection between illiteracy and poverty. Data from the Rauch Foundation shows that 85-90 percent of brain development takes place from birth to age 5. There also is a high correlation between children who live in poverty and lack of reading material in the home.

Books for Newborns provides low-income mothers with a free tote bag filled with four new books, each appropriate for different young age groups, and information on how to bond and better engage with their babies. The organization works with social workers at area hospitals and other organizations to distribute the books. Since January 2017, more than 1,800 bags have been distributed to moms and their babies.

Nix stressed that the effort is more than just putting free books into the hands of low-income families. The goal is to help each family establish what he describes as a “preschool,” meaning that mothers are given tools to better bond with their babies and improve their own literacy skills — which in turn has an impact on family life, including the relationship among siblings.

Renee Stout, who volunteers as the organization’s development director, recalled years ago visiting a maternity home, where she saw several babies propped up against the wall with a bottle in hand. “I couldn’t fathom not holding your baby and feeding your baby,” she said.

Hank Scott, left, and his wife, Courtney Scott, parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in University City, bagged books for distribution to the parents of newborn children. An all-volunteer nonprofit, Books for Newborns provides age-appropriate books to families of newborns to encourage parents to read to their children.
Photo Credits: Sid Hastings
The maternity home’s executive director picked up one of the babies and began talking to her. “It was a real teaching moment,” Stout said. “She said, ‘It’s very important you hold your baby and talk to your baby, so the baby can feel you and hear you.’ This is another element to teach mothers — and it’s not through any fault of their own. They weren’t shown this.”

Nix said God has played a “big part” in making the organization come together, including receiving gratis many of the services needed to operate — storage space, legal work, computers, and so on. Books for Newborns relies totally upon donations.

Nix said he also is hopeful that the program will lead to a more long-term social change, which he recognizes won’t happen overnight.

“The reason we have children shooting people is that they’re looking for attention, and unfortunately they never got it when they needed it — and that started when they were babies,” he said. “It’s not going to come overnight. But the change is that we could stop the pipeline — stop feeding these children to the streets, to gangs, to drugs, to crime, to prisons.”

>> Books for Newborns

WEBSITEwww.booksfornewborns.com

CONTACT: booksfornewborns@gmail.com or (314) 827-7307

DONATE: A donation of $15 will provide a newborn with a tote bag filled with four new books and tips for parents on bonding with their child. Donations can be made at paypal.me/booksfornewbornsSTL or mailed to Books for Newborns, 932 Glenmoor Ave., St. Louis MO 63122


Related Articles Module

From the Archive Module

Social change through the bond of books 2833

Must Watch Videos

Now Playing

    View More Videos