On Thursday February 4, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced an addition to the D.C. Public Library’s Sing Talk and Read Program (STAR). The new component, Books from Birth, will send all children within the District a book each month from birth until age five. Children who are included from birth have the potential to receive sixty reading books over the course of their early childhood. The addition comes as a part of Education Week, Mayor Bowser’s effort to draw attention to the District’s recent education and school reform.

Mayor Bowser reads to a young Washingtonian. | Image courtesy of the Office of Charles Allen

“A pathway to the middle class starts with a good education – and it is never too early to start,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Parents that use books and who sing, talk and read with infants play a crucial role in giving their children a strong education foundation. I encourage parents and caregivers to sign their children up for the Books from Birth program and jumpstart the development process for their children.”

The Books from Birth program was originally proposed by Ward 6 Councilman Charles Allen in January 2015. Allen’s proposal was inspired by a visit to his family in Tennessee, where he saw his young niece’s excitement at receiving a new book. Allen’s administration acknowledges that homeless children, who tend to have lower levels of literacy than housed children, also deserve to benefit from this program. Books from Birth will pair with D.C. shelters and service providers to make sure donated books get to children in the District who are using homeless services.

Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen shows off the Dolly Parton Imagination Library’s contribution to Books From Birth: a signed copy of The Little Engine That Could. | Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilmember Charles Allen

Councilmember Allen lauded D.C. Public Library’s efforts to make this program accessible to all children in D.C. “Their Sing Talk & Read staff will be developing strategies to reach every child in the District, including families experiencing homelessness or in transitional housing.”

The library system already partners with Children’s National Medical Center, Unity Health Care, and the DC Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, all of which will receive books through the new program.

“I feel very confident D.C. Public Library will be finding innovative ways to reach those families most in need of Books From Birth,” Allen said.