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Who We Are

Literacy begins at birth, long before the start of formal instruction in elementary school. By the time a child enters kindergarten, she or he already has been learning for 5 or 6 years. In fact, babies are born learning; parents are their first teachers and home is their first "school."

Read to Grow helps build literacy right from birth.  We are the only statewide nonprofit organization that connects with parents in the hospital setting and prepares them to take an active role in their child's literacy development from day one. To help parents create language-rich homes in which children can develop critical early skills, we provide books to families and to the program that interact with infants, toddlers, and school-age children and their parents.

The first step to literacy is developing language skills. Strong language skills are among the best predictors of later reading and writing abilities. Reading aloud exposes babies to words and speech, and helps build good language skills early on.

      • Reading aloud to children is the single most important intervention
        for preventing low literacy.

According to current research, the first three years of life offer a critical window for brain development. The human brain is not fully developed at birth. Each of us is born with a genetic blueprint---a basic design. The brain develops as genes (nature) and experience (nurture) interact. In order to make the most of these plans, children need input from their environment. What they need most in the early years are stable, positive relationships with loving caretakers and good learning experiences. What happens in those earliest years lays the foundation for later growth, development and learning.

Our Approach

Read to Grow works with parents in the hospital when a baby is born to help families understand that early literacy and language development are part of their child's overall healthy growth.

Emphasizing the vital role they play in their child’s literacy development, we encourage parents to begin reading aloud to their babies right from birth. To start them off, we give a "literacy bag" containing a free new children’s book and informational guide to all parents of babies born in our participating hospitals.

To increase families' access to books, we provide free books to children in need, from birth through middle-school age, and to the programs that serve them.

Read to Grow makes a difference in the lives of children.

  • Reaching over 50% of the state’s newborns and their families with a new children’s book and literacy guidance, in partnership with 12 Connecticut birthing hospitals.

  • Distributing more than 130,000 free books to Connecticut children each year.

Read to Grow is primarily donor supported, and depends on hundreds of adult and youth volunteers and partnerships with health, education, literacy and social service providers to assist us in delivering our program services.

Our Mission

Read to Grow promotes language-building and literacy for children, beginning at birth, and supports parents as their babies' first teachers.

Our History

Read to Grow began in 1998 in response to a call for children’s books from a New Haven, Connecticut health care center. Local bookseller Roxanne Coady rallied the Shoreline community and collected two busloads of books for the center's pediatric patients. Shocked to learn that so many children did not have books of their own, Roxanne brought together bankers, philanthropists, business leaders, educators and health care professionals to create the Books for Babies program to ensure that all babies in the New Haven area start life with a book of their own and parents who understand the importance of reading to them.

In 2000, the name Read to Grow was adopted to reflect a broader mission and additional services. Over the past 12 years, with support from our donors, volunteers and community partners, Read to Grow has grown, reaching hundreds of thousands of children, and expanding programming to address Connecticut’s ever-widening achievement gap.

Download our Read to Grow Brochure.

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