Learning to read starts before a child starts school. Research has shown that children need to develop early literacy skills before they can learn to read.

Children who enter kindergarten with these skills learn to read more easily and are more successful throughout school.

“Supporting early literacy development has always been a main objective of the Tuscarawas County Public Library System,” said Director Michelle McMorrow Ramsell. “Partnerships and library initiatives helps us with the goal of putting books in the hands and homes of area children.” 

New Philadelphia native and former librarian Betty Lou Honaker understands the need to support literacy in children. She established the First Steps to Literacy: Books for Babies Trust Fund at the County Library in 2008. Each year, 90 percent of the interest income from the trust is used to purchase books for newborns who will reside in Tuscarawas County, while the remaining interest income and trust is reinvested for use in future years.

“Recently, the County Library provided 51 books to Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital to be given to newborns,” said Children’s Services Manager Linda Uhler. “As the trust grows, the library will continue to increase the number of books given to newborns each year.”

Uhler said that in addition to the trust, the County Library system encourages area residents to participate in the nationwide challenge 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten. The challenge promotes reading to newborns, infants, and toddlers and seeks to encourage parent-child bonding through reading.

All five locations of the Tuscarawas County Public Library System offers participation in this free program. Reading logs are provided to help keep track of books and small prizes are awarded for milestones reached. According to Uhler the goal is to read 1,000 books before a child starts kindergarten. Every books counts – even those favorite books that you re-read.

For more information on donating to the First Steps to Literacy: Books for Babies Trust or to participate in the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program visit www.tusclibrary.org or call the library at 330-364-4474.


Woman in hospital holding a newborn baby while a library staff member hands her a book for the new baby.

Photo: Gnadenhutten resident Shannon Moore is pictured with her newborn son, Parker, at Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital with Tuscarawas County Public Library System’s Children’s Services Manager Linda Uhler.