Elementary teacher Kay Barga and dedicated classroom volunteer Missy Peterson had spent enough years with students to know that children who are read to at home from an early age are much more ready to succeed at school. And they believed that students who participate in community service are better equipped to succeed in life. Thus Books for Babes was born as a community service project of Edison Elementary students to promote literacy to newborn families in Walla Walla. (The program now partners with Sharpstein Elementary).

​Birth Bags made their debut at local hospitals in May 2005 to the delight of hospital staff and new parents.  Currently bags go home with each mother who delivers at the Providence St. Mary Medical Center.
The involvement of the elementary students in this project is as important as putting good literature into the hands of these new parents. Through writing books for the newborns, the young authors are building connections to their community and are gaining an appreciation of their own reading. Filling the bags and delivering them to the hospitals completes the sequence of their project-related tasks. 

​But they aren’t finished yet! Part of learning about community service is figuring out how to fund it. To do their part, students have designed and sold notecards as well as flower bulbs in decorative jars at the holiday time, and put on fundraising plays and musicals. In this way, students have a yearlong, multifaceted attachment to the program.
Overall, the mission of Books for Babes is to encourage parents to begin reading to their babies right away in order to take advantage of a golden opportunity for brain development. It is well known that we are born with more brain cells than we can ever use. Most connections between these cells are made during the first few years of life, and if we don’t use them, we lose them. Reading to one’s child, the earlier the better, is one of the most powerful contributions a parent can make to encourage brain development.

​Research aside, for many parents and children reading together is one of the most delightful times in the day. And becoming literate early in life helps children in school and gives them a boost in learning for the rest of their lives.
Learn more about the program by watching this video interview with Program Coordinator Kay Barga.

Honor Roll

Books for Babes would like to thank the following organizations for their continued support and dedication

Book & Game Company

Braden Foundation

Earthlight Books

George T. Welch Trust

JL Stubblefield Trust

Junior Club of Walla Walla