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13 Reads: Read-a-thon to promote early literacy by reading to premature babies

The hospital says reading to a baby every day strengthens their hearing and brain growth, and encourages a lifelong relationship with books.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Helen DeVos Children's Hospital NICU is hosting a read-a-thon this week to promote early literacy.

Experts at Helen DeVos say no one expects their baby to be born premature or with birth defects and it can be a very stressful experience. This event helps to lighten the mood and relieve some stress.

The read-a-thon also benefits the babies by promoting their growth. The hospital says reading to a baby every day strengthens their hearing and brain growth, and encourages a lifelong relationship with books.

“When caregivers read to the babies, they're strengthening the baby's hearing and brain growth by increasing their language and listening skills by enhancing memory and by building curiosity and thinking skills,” said Amy Nyberg with the March of Dimes NICU Family Support. “And they're also encouraging social development in brain development.”

RELATED: 13 READS: Teacher growing classroom library to foster students' love of reading

To kick off the read-a-thon, hospital staff read to the babies on Friday.

While the hospital is not accepting volunteers to read to the babies, book donations are welcome.

If you are interested in taking part, you can make a donation to the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Foundation. They are asking for board books because they are easy to clean.

Learn more about the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital here.

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