Never too young to read - Little Readers Read-a-thon launches in Neonatal Units
The Sector > Research > Understanding Children > Never too young to read – Little Readers Read-a-thon launches in Neonatal Units

Never too young to read – Little Readers Read-a-thon launches in Neonatal Units

by Freya Lucas

September 14, 2022

There are many benefits of reading to children from birth, and the Little Readers Read-a-thon focuses on ensuring that children who are in Neonatal Intensive Care Units and Special Care Nurseries across the country and internationally don’t miss out.


Held from 5-16 September, the Little Readers Read-a-thon is run by the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation, in partnership with NIDCAP Australasia, promoting the many benefits associated with reading to babies in neonatal units.


Research shows that reading to babies helps brain development and is linked to a host of benefits. These include improved language and writing skills that help prepare children for school, improved general thinking skills and better behavioural self-regulation.


Clinical Nurse Consultant at the Grace Centre for Newborn Intensive Care, Alyssa Fraser, says it is important to expose babies to language from an early age.


“Babies recognise their parents’ voices from hearing them in the womb, so reading can be a positive and soothing sound to the baby in a noisy environment like NICU,” Ms Fraser says.


The Read-a-thon also aims to empower parents to be active in their baby’s care in what is a stressful and uncertain environment. Participation in the Read-a-thon often helps families struggling with feelings of isolation and helplessness.


“When a baby is born prematurely, or if they are sick, it can be hard for a parent to know what to do to help their baby,” Ms Fraser explains. 


“The Read-a-thon provides parents the opportunity to bond with their baby in an environment that can have them feeling a bit lost or unsure of what their role is.”


This year, the Little Readers Read-a-thon has seen a record number of hospitals participating, with 44 Australian hospitals and 14 international hospitals, including neonatal units in New Zealand, Ireland, United States of America, Scotland, Wales, Canada and Portugal, an outcome which Life’s Little Treasures Foundation’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Belinda Algie describes as “overwhelming”.


“It is so wonderful to see this initiative grow each year and to see it resonant with hospitals overseas is incredibly rewarding. And with International Literacy Day occurring during the Read-a-thon, it only helps to amplify our message that it is never too early to start reading to your child.”. 


To celebrate the launch of the Read-a-thon, Life’s Little Treasure Foundation is holding weekly ‘Virtual Story Time’ sessions on their Facebook page throughout September. Each Friday night at 7pm a different Australian author will be reading one of their stories to encourage families to experience the joy of reading at home. 


Award-winning Australian author and  Read-a-thon Ambassador Michelle Worthington will be among the authors who will be reading her book, My Brother Tom, a story about her personal experience with prematurity.


Families at home can learn more about the Read-a-thon activities and why reading really does matter, by following the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation facebook page.

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