Books donated to Newborn intensive care units to boost bonding
Reading charity, Booktrust has given thousands of free
children's books to neonatal wards across England so parents can
read to their premature and poorly babies.
A mum, who gave birth seven weeks early after major heart
surgery, was pleased to receive a free children's book to read to
her son during his extensive stay in a newborn intensive care unit
Mum-of-two, Kayele Clifton was particularly excited to be given
a copy of Super Duck by popular children's author Jez
Alborough from Booktrust because she spends lots of time talking
and reading to son, Archie in order to help him get used to her
She explained: 'On the ward with all the different equipment,
monitors and people. I worry Archie won't recognise my voice so I
talk and read to him all the time.'
Kayele and her partner Michael Appleby, from Barrow-in-Furness
in Cumbria, have spent a lot of time on neonatal wards as their
sons, C-Jay now four and Archie two and a half months, were both
born extremely prematurely at 29 weeks.
The family are currently staying in Ronald McDonald housing by
Saint Mary's neonatal unit in Manchester to stay close to Archie,
who was born in May weighing just 887 grams, less than a bag of
Kayele was transferred to Central Manchester University Hospital
when she was 21 weeks pregnant because she needed emergency surgery
after the aorta valve in her heart exploded.
Archie was delivered a few weeks later because the placenta had
been damaged during Kayele's surgery and he was being starved of
oxygen, consequently stopping his growth.
During the family's stay, reading charity Booktrust were gifting
copies of HarperCollins' Super Duck to families on the
Not wanting any family to miss out on the life-changing bond
that sharing and reading books together can bring, the charity have
handed thousands of children's books to neonatal units across
Family support worker on Manchester's NICU, Sue McGaskill says:
'We often encourage parents to talk, read or sing to their babies.
Some can be unsure because there are so many people around but by
giving them a book it almost gives them permission.'
Booktrust understand that it's a challenging and overwhelming
time for parents who have a baby in newborn intensive care units as
they can't always choose when they hold, cuddle or nurse their
child, affecting the way they interact with them.
They believe a simple book to read with their baby can help
strengthen bonds and create intimacy.
Research indicates that reading to and sharing books with babies
helps emotional bonding and promotes strong and loving
relationships and secure attachment. Daily reading can also help
with establishing a 'calming routine' (Hall, 2001).
According to a study in the Journal of Developmental and
Behavioral Pediatrics  encouraging parents to talk
to their babies can help promote closeness, but the stress of the
NICU can make this difficult. Reading from a book, on the other
hand, helps parents feel close to their babies. It also helps
parents feel more in control of their situation and promotes future
One hundred and thirty-six parents of babies in the NICU at
Montreal Children's Hospital took part in the study and were
assigned to either a group that used the 'Books for Babies' reading
program, or a control group that did not use the reading program.
Parents using the reading program read to their baby a few minutes
Three months after discharge, the parents were asked to fill out
a questionnaire. Sixty-nine per cent of parents who used the
reading program reported that reading helped them feel closer to
their baby and 86% said they enjoyed it.
Twice as many parents (55.9%) who used the reading program
reported reading three or more times a week to their babies,
compared with the control group (23.3%).
The study concluded that reading to babies in the NICU not only
helps parents interact with their babies but it also promotes
Booktrust's Chief Executive, Viv Bird said: 'We are delighted
that through our gift of children's books we have helped parents
strengthen their bond with their baby while going through a
difficult and stressful time.
'Books can make a big difference to people's lives, and sharing
books is a good way for families to take time out and relax.'
 Hall, e., 2001. 'Babies, books and 'impact': problems and
possibilities in the evaluation of a Bookstart project'.
Educational review, 53(1):57-64
 Lariviere, j., 2011. 'Parent picture-book reading to infants
in the neonatal intensive care unit as an intervention supporting
parent-infant interaction and later book reading'. Study at
Montreal Children's Hospital.
For more information and interview requests, contact Harriet
Jackson or Monica Brimacombe in the Booktrust press team on
firstname.lastname@example.org or 0208 875 4827.
Notes to editors
Booktrust approached neonatal units across the country to give
out copies of Super Duck during their National
Bookstart Week (9-15June)
A smaller, pocket-sized version of the book was made for
National Bookstart Week an annual celebration of Booktrust's
flagship reading programme.
Through their book gifting programmes Booktrust aims to create a
society of people who are motivated to read and who see themselves
as readers whatever level that might be.
Booktrust is Britain's largest reading charity. It makes a
significant positive contribution to the educational outcomes of
children from the earliest age. They work to give people of all
backgrounds the benefits that a rich and positive engagement in
reading and writing can bring. Booktrust is responsible for a
number of successful national reading promotions, sponsored book
prizes and creative reading projects aimed at encouraging readers
to discover and enjoy books. These include the Blue Peter Book
Award, the Children's Laureate, and Bookstart, the national
programme that works through locally based organisations to give a
free pack of books to babies and toddlers, with guidance materials
for parents and carers. www.booktrust.org.uk
National Bookstart Week
National Bookstart Week is an annual celebration of Bookstart,
the flagship reading programme from national charity, Booktrust.
Bookstart aims to help every child in England, Wales and Northern
Ireland to develop a lifelong love of reading that will give them a
flying start in life through gifting free books to every child.
This year's National Bookstart Week ran from 9 -15 June and saw
millions of families across the UK coming together to discover
stories, rhymes and reading.