Lincoln libraries, hospitals give books to newborn babies

Ellie Hiser, a sophomore at Lincoln Southeast High School, connected with libraries and hospitals to give books to infants and their caregivers.
Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 8:32 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A new initiative was born a couple of weeks ago called Books for Babies. The three-year program allows new mothers to leave Lincoln hospitals with their babies and a new book in hand.

This is all thanks to Lincoln City Libraries, CHI Health St. Elizabeth, Bryan Health and Lincoln East High School sophomore, Ellie Hiser.

“A few years ago, before we moved to Lincoln, my mom became a Court Appointed Special Advocate,” Hiser said. “Families she worked with often had young kids, but didn’t have any books in their homes. This truly made me realize that many kids don’t grow up with books and how great the need is in many communities.”

Hiser shared her story at a press conference today, where Books for Babies was officially announced by a wide range of partners.

Hiser loved reading since third grade, and when she heard that not all children had access to literature, she dedicated herself to providing families with books. This project began last summer when she approached local hospitals and libraries with the idea.

Now, children who are born in Lincoln hospitals leave with a new developmentally appropriate book, a pamphlet with the benefits of reading aloud, and a flier they can show to city libraries to receive another book for home.

The library and hospital representatives discussed the benefits of reading aloud to babies, such as developing cognitive thinking, language skills, and a special bond between a parent and their child.

Alexa Lewis, the director of women and children’s services at Bryan Health, suggested parents even read to their babies before they are born. This is to familiarize the infant with its parents voices and create a sense of attachment.

The Books for Babies initiative could not have been made possible without donations from the associated hospitals and the Community Health Endowment.

“Children learn language from hearing words spoken by adults in person, not on television, not in screens, not even in play groups,” said Dr. Marilyn Moore, the vice president of the Community Health Endowment. “They practice in playgroups, but they learn language from adults, and for babies, that happens when an adult holds them and reads to them and talks with them.

For more information on this program, visit and select the “Kids and Teens” tab. With Books for Babies, Lincoln libraries hopes to help foster a love of reading within families.

“In my case, it was while reading to my babies in the my rocking chair,” said Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. “That was a part of our daily routine in my family. There’s a world of literature language acquisition and brain development before they know what words are.”