Books for Babes was born in February 2002 and have been delivered to over 3,000 families in Oceanside when they have a newborn. Island Health, Regional District of Nanaimo, Oceanside BLT and community volunteers join together to present a special gift for new parents:  a bag lovingly handmade, with a book or two and community resources inside.  These bags are delivered by Public Health Nurses on their home visit to parents and new babies.

Why do we do this?  Researchers tell us that a critical time for learning is between birth and 3 years of age. Early quality experiences help to determine how a baby’s brain develops.  Babies that are read to, sung to, talked to, and played with develop strong vocabulary and language – the basis for reading and writing. They learn important social skills and they build the most vital muscle of all: attachment.

OBLT is able to keep this important initiative going strong thanks to the support of the community. As a non-profit we have been the recipient of local community grants, most recently Parksville Grants-In-Aid. We use these grants to purchase books and materials to make the bags.

Last Fall we were approached by Brian and Jeannie Webber, owners of Fireside Books in Parksville, to discuss our mutual passion – literacy! We spoke about the importance of early childhood literacy opportunities and what projects OBLT is working on. When Brian and Jeannie heard about Books for Babes they immediately wanted to be a part of offering quality children’s books to the program. In June of this year, they reached out to two of their publishers (Heritage House Publishing Company of Victoria, BC, and Rocky Mountain Books of Calgary, AB and Victoria, BC) to tell them about Books for Babes and see what they were able to secure for books. Their publishers provided them with four beautiful books written by local authors and West Coast inspired at a great price that Fireside Books then donated to us – 50 of each for a total of 200 books! We just can’t say thank you enough to Brian and Jeannie for their support.

If you are looking for great books for the little ones in your life, check out these titles, all available locally at Fireside Books:

West Coast ABCs by Jocey Asnong
West Coast 123s by Jocey Asnong
Creatures of the Sea by Caroll Simpson
Creatures of the Land and Sky by Caroll Simpson

We would also like to thank the OBLT Board of directors, local quilters guild, and local book clubs for the donation of their time to sew bags, donating quality new books, and stuffing the bags! We always have bags ready and waiting for Island Health’s Public Health Nursing team to deliver when they welcome new babies to the Oceanside area!