Ipswich Mayoress Janet Pisasale (centre) nurses newborn Oscar Brown from Tivoli at the Books for Babies celebration at Ipswich Hospital watched by Ipswich City Council Tourism and Libraries Committee Chairperson Councillor David Pahlke (left) and Oscar’s father Joey Brown (right).

IPSWICH’s newest residents are being encouraged to become avid readers from the cradle through a special project run by the Friends of the Ipswich Library Service (FOILS) and Ipswich City Council. The Books for Babies project is an initiative of FOILS and council designed to encourage childhood reading and literacy.

Ipswich City Council Tourism and Libraries Committee Chairperson Councillor David Pahlke and Ipswich Mayoress Janet Pisasale presented book packages to the mothers of new born babies currently at the hospital to mark the occasion. Cr Pahlke said babies born at both hospitals in Ipswich had been receiving the special literary gifts all month long.“Every baby born at the Ipswich Hospital or St Andrews Hospital during August of this year has or will receive a gift package from FOILS,” he said.

“Ipswich City Council is pleased to be working in partnership with FOILS on this vital project. “We want to share the joy of reading and libraries with mothers and babies born in Ipswich through Books for Babies. “This special project, which will run until August 31, is an early literacy project designed to raise the awareness of new mothers of the importance of reading to children from a very early age. “Reading aloud to children each day could help to wipe out childhood illiteracy and council and FOILS are keen to promote to the community the important benefits to be gained from this activity.”

Cr Pahlke said Books for Babies was designed to link in with Children’s Book Week, an annual event organised by the Children’s Book Council of Australia and celebrated throughout Australian schools and libraries. “The gift packages included a variety of gifts designed to promote literacy. “We have given the babies colourfully illustrated books to encourage reading and literacy from the earliest of ages,” he said.

“Each package contains an illustrated book, It’s Rhyme Time booklet, information on childhood literacy, Ipswich Library and Information Service brochures, library membership applications, a 2011 Storytime passport and bookmark and an application for an Ipswich commemorative birth certificate. “Approximately 250 babies will have received the book packages by the end of the month. “Last year a total of 287 gift packs were distributed through the Books for Babies promotion to children born in Ipswich (41 at St Andrew’s and 246 at Ipswich Hospital). “Our thanks go to FOILS who organise the project each year with the support of St Andrews Ipswich Private Hospital and the Ipswich Hospital.”

FOILS is a group of enthusiastic library supporters who aim to enhance, support and extend the Library Service and strengthen its links with the community. Formed in October 2000, the groups patron is an Ipswich born poet and novelist, Thomas Shapcott. The group currently has around 91 individual and 18 family memberships and are always looking for more members.

Becoming a member of FOILS is as easy as picking up a brochure at any library branch or contacting the Ipswich Library on 3810 6761.

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