Children spending time in The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center (BBCH) will be able to participate in story time, even if they’re not able to leave their rooms, thanks to a new program. Patients can watch stories being read aloud on the BBCH closed-circuit TV system (CCTV).
“Reading is such an important part of childhood,” said John Bancroft, MD, medical director of BBCH and the George W. Hallett, MD, Chair of Pediatrics at Maine Medical Center. “Reading stories here is one way to bring normal life to kids who are on the mend.”
The readers are all adults that young patients might encounter during their hospital stay, including doctors, nurses and child life specialists. They were recorded reading books that were recommended by Raising Readers, a MaineHealth program funded by the Libra Foundation that promotes early childhood literacy and a love of reading by giving books to Maine children at birth and during well-child visits through the age of five.
“It’s really hard to tell kids who are sick that they can’t participate in group activities in our shared spaces,” said Liz Shaughnessy, the John D. Bancroft, MD, Child Life Program Manager. “This allows kids to share in that group reading activity from their room.”
Raising Readers books are vetted by doctors, librarians, child development experts and parents to ensure they appeal to kids and continue to be interesting after repeated read-aloud sessions. Cassandra Grantham, director of Raising Readers, said the team was excited to partner with the BBCH child life program to bring Raising Readers to life in the hospital.
“Healthcare providers and staff are trusted sources of information and advice, so having them read to children through this universally accessible system reinforces the importance of literacy and taking the time to engage with children through high-quality children’s books,” Grantham said. “This program is an opportunity to have a sustainable activity available to all kids and families whenever they receive care at BBCH.”
BBCH expects to have stories playing on CCTV three times a day by the summer. Planning has already begun to add to the selection of books being read aloud in the future. To find out more about Raising Readers, please visit the program’s webpage at www.raisingreaders.org