NICU Encourages Parent Communication Through Reading Program

March 08, 2019
Cat in Hat
A visit from Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat helped highlight a new program in place in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

The Reach Out & Read program was brought to the NICU by Sande Gunnell, education coordinator, and her team who had an idea to collect books for a NICU library. They never imagined that their tiny library would evolve into something larger.

Thanks to a grant from the Wilmington Woman’s Club, Gunnell was able to secure the funds necessary to partner with Reach Out & Read, a nonprofit organization that provides books to families to encourage parents to read to their children.

NICU Bookmark Cropped“We wanted to build a collection of books our staff and parents could pull from and read to children,” Gunnell said. “Reach Out & Read took our idea to another level.”

Families with babies in the NICU are provided a book on admission, every two weeks during their stay, and at discharge.  The idea is to teach parents about the importance of reading, singing, and talking to their babies.

“Reading out loud helps parents connect with their babies while they are in the hospital,” Gunnell said. “It not only gives them a way to participate in their care, but also helps with language development and early literacy skills.”


Pictured: NICU Staff Nurse Jesslyn Hayes with Neonatal Dietitian Kirsten Frank (as Cat in the Hat).