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Loudoun Schools, Inova Celebrate Books For Babies Program

© Leesburg Today - 10/30/2015

There's no better way to celebrate literacy than an enthusiastic reading of ""The Day the Crayons Came Home.""

Fourth-grader Fatima del Cid thinks so, anyway.

""Who has been eaten by a dog and puked up on a rug? I have!"" an exasperated Fatima said, reading her part from the goofy book that gives children's crayons a voice.

Reading can be fun, and starting to enjoy books at a young age can inspire life-long learning.

That was the message at the annual Books for Babies celebration Wednesday, when elementary students put their literacy skills on display in front of school division leaders.

The event marked the 15th year Inova Loudoun Hospital and Loudoun County Public Schools have partnered to provide books for newborn babies and their families. Books for Babies gives new parents a set of four books, two in English, two in Spanish. In all, the program distributes more than 3,000 books each year.

Reading to children, even when they're a few days old, can have lasting benefits, said Carol Basham, who recently retired as Loudoun County's Head Start coordinator and helped start Books for Babies. Books typically use a wider variety of vocabulary than what's spoken in most homes, exposing children early to more words, she said.

""And the most important years for language development are zero to 5,"" Basham said.

Students' reading presentations were the highlight of Wednesday's event. Along with Sanders Corner Elementary students' reading of ""The Day the Crayons Came Home,"" Leesburg Elementary students read ""But Excuse Me That Is My Book,"" and Newton Lee Elementary students read ""You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Scary Tales to Read Together.""

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