As part of St. Luke University Health Network’s initiative to bolster literacy in Carbon County, it is adding a library book cart for children in the Veterans Center on its Lehighton Campus. The cart will feature popular children’s titles as well as a wide array of stories that talk about military service, deployments, and more difficult topics such as post-traumatic stress.
“My hope is that veterans who come to the Veterans Center at the hospital will bring their children and grandchildren with them and allow them to select a book from the cart to read either at home or while they are being assisted at the center,” said Christine M. LeClair, Director of Veterans Affairs in Carbon County.
Fifteen books were ordered for the library that relate to PTSD, veterans, the different military branches, and other related themes, said Rosemarie Lister, MPH, SLUHN’s Senior Network Director, Community Health. The initiative is expected to be at the St. Luke’s Lehighton Campus by the summer.
“Not only will the books encourage a love of reading, but they also will educate children about the complexities of military service and help them to better understand their feelings,” LeClair said.
The library book cart is one of several programs SLUHN participates in that are designed to promote literacy in Carbon County. The need to promote literacy in the county was identified through the St. Luke’s Community Health Needs Assessment.
Since the need was identified, through a generous donation from the Carbon County Community Foundation (CCCF), St. Luke’s Community Health began implementing the evidence-based Reach Out and Read (ROR) program and Brush, Book, and Bed (BBB) messaging. The ROR program has trained providers to engage families in the importance of literacy. Since the ROR program began, providers have engaged families in over 1,600 children’s well visits at six SLUHN’s pediatric and primary care locations:
- Lehighton Family Practice
- Palmerton Pediatrics
- Nesquehoning Family Practice,
- Nesquehoning Rural Health Center
- Lansford Rural Health Center
- Palmerton Primary Care
During their wellness visits at these practices, children 5 and under are able to select an age-appropriate book to take home and read.
BBB instructs families on the importance of a regular bedtime routine for children that includes brushing their teeth and reading a book. “BBB promotes oral health along with literacy,” Lister said.
In July 2021, the partnership with CCCF expanded to include Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) for all Carbon County families as a way for children ages 5 and under to receive developmentally appropriate books to build their at-home libraries. Every month, DPIL mails a book to the home of the children who are signed up.
“Combined, these efforts offer evidence-based best practices for Carbon County families to have access to books and education on the importance of reading while also incorporating health education and resources,” Lister said.
To further promote literacy in Carbon County, the county and participating practices were engaged in St. Luke’s initiative to celebrate Read Across America Day on March 2, 2022. St. Luke’s representatives, including administration, providers and staff, recorded and read books to create a virtual showcase; links were sent to Carbon County schools to integrate into their lessons and story time. Priya Patel, M.D., from Lehighton Family Practice read “Clifford the Firehouse Dog”.
Sharon Alexander, President of CCCF, said, “We are proud to provide funding for these wonderful programs and improve the literacy skills of our children in Carbon County. St. Luke’s has been a wonderful partner to work with, and we’re really excited about expanding our efforts to include the library book cart at the Veterans Center.”
The military books that have been ordered for book cart at Lehighton Campus are:
- “Why is Dad So Mad?”
- “Why is Mom So Mad?”
- “I Love You Near and Far”
- “Hero Mom”
- “Hero Dad”
- “Veterans: Heroes in Our Neighborhood”
- “Lil’ Air Force Pilot (Mini Military)”
- “Lil’ Marine (Mini Military)”
- “Lil’ Navy Solider (Mini Military)”
- “Lil’ Army Soldier (Mini Military)”
- “Otto’s Tales: Today is Veteran’s Day!”
- “My Mommy is a Hero”
- “My Daddy is a Hero”
- “My Mommy is a Hero in Uniform”
- “My Daddy is a Hero in Uniform”