LSU AgCenter unveils new literacy program in St. Helena Parish

Rebecca White, Givens, Stefen L., Morgan, Johnny W.  |  12/18/2007 9:57:24 PM

LSU AgCenter specialist Dr. Becky White explains the Little Bookshelf program to parents at the projects kickoff in Greensburg on Dec. 12. The program is designed to help parents develop a foundation for literacy for their children by reading to them daily during the earliest years of their lives. (Photo by Johnny Morgan.) (Click on image to download photo.)

News Release Distributed 12/17/07

The LSU AgCenter kicked off its Little Bookshelf program in St. Helena Parish at the parish health unit in Greensburg on Dec. 12.

The program is designed to help parents develop a foundation for literacy for their children by reading to them daily during the earliest years of their lives, LSU AgCenter officials said.

The program grew out of a partnership between the LSU AgCenter and the St. Helena Parish Health Unit to implement the project for parents more than 200 newborns who receive health screenings and services at the health unit each year.

Participating parents will receive a library of 12 infant-appropriate books (one a month) and a bookshelf during their child’s first year of life, LSU AgCenter specialist Dr. Becky White said.

“We are hoping to put these infants on the fast track to learning by getting their parents involved in reading to them at an earlier age,” she said.

The LSU AgCenter first launched the Little Bookshelf project in January 2007 at the LSU Mid-City Pediatric Clinic in Baton Rouge. The clinic serves a seven-parish area, primarily East Baton Rouge Parish.

When LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson learned about it, he offered to expand the project to reach new babies born in St. Helena Parish – one of the most challenged school districts in the state – as a way to help children prepare for success when they enter school.

“We saw this as an opportunity to do something to improve education in this parish, and we are happy to be a part of such a worthwhile program,” he said.

Latoya Solomon, one of the mothers involved in the program, said she already reads to her one-month-old daughter and sees the Little Bookshelf program as a good way to help her child develop.

“We were told that it’s important to read to our babies while they are little, and I can tell that she likes it,” she said.

Dr. Parham Jaberi, medical director for the Department of Health and Hospitals-Office of Public Health Region 9, and Dr. Amy Westbrook, St. Helena Parish superintendent of education, joined Richardson at the kickoff program.

Jean Claxton, manager of the Greensburg Library, was on hand to read one of the books that are included in the set given to the new mothers.

“We don’t have a stop light. We don’t have a chain hotel. And we don’t a chain restaurant – well, we do have a Subway,” said Stefen Given, LSU AgCenter agent in St. Helena Parish. “But what we do have are good people, and that’s what counts.”

Additional information on the Little Bookshelf program is available from White at (225) 578-3921 or bwhite@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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Contacts: Becky White at (225) 578-3921 or bwhite@agcenter.lsu.edu Stefen Givens at (225) 222-4136 or sgivens@agcenter.lsu.edu

Writer: Johnny Morgan at (225) 578-8484 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

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