How did Read to Me! begin?

Read to Me! evolved from a collaboration between the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education, the Halifax Youth Foundation, the IWK Health Centre and Health Authorities across Nova Scotia who were looking for ways to address low literacy rates and support early learning in Nova Scotia. In 2001 the Read to Me! Director was hired to shape a program model for a hospital-based early literacy program for Nova Scotia. Read to Me! was launched on Family Literacy Day January 27th, 2002.

How are you funded?

Read to Me! is a registered charitable foundation. An endowment is being built to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the program. The Read to Me! Foundation Inc. Board of trustees oversee the endowment. We have received generous donations from corporations, foundations, individuals and the Federal and Provincial government. Click here to support Read to Me!

Is Read to Me! across Canada?

Read to Me! is unique to Nova Scotia. While there are book gift programs in other provinces, Read to Me! was created for families in Nova Scotia.

Is this a government program?

Read to Me! is a non-profit organization and we are building an endowment to fund the program in perpetuity. Generous funding for the endowment has come from both the Federal and Provincial governments, but Read to Me! is not a government program.

What’s in the bag?

Every Read to Me! bag contains high quality books for babies, our Family Reading Guide with tips for sharing books during baby’s first year, a CD of music and rhymes and baby’s first library card. The Read to Me! bag is available in English, French, Arabic, Chinese and Mi’kmaq. To learn more about what is in the Read to Me! bag click here.

How many bags has Read to Me! given out?

We have distributed over 96,000 free bags of books and reading information to babies born in Nova Scotia.

How much does the bag cost?

The Read to Me! bag is FREE to the family of every baby born in Nova Scotia. Through our endowment we are able to cover the cost of each Read to Me! bag. If you would like to help us give the gift of books to babies in Nova Scotia, you can make a donation to Read to Me! by clicking here.

I gave birth recently but we were discharged from the hospital before the Read to Me! representative arrived. Can I still get a bag?

Yes! If you didn’t receive your Read to Me! bag in the hospital when your baby was born, you can e-mail our office at readtome@iwk.nshealth.ca with your name, your baby’s date of birth and your mailing address. Also, please let us know if you’d prefer to receive the bag in English or in one of our other languages (French, Arabic, Chinese or Mi’kmaq) and we will mail a Read to Me! bag to you.

Are the resources in the bag for sale?

The books provided in the Read to Me! bag are available at most book stores. Read to Me! has also developed the following resources which are available for purchase. Click on the links below for more information. Please note that bulk discounts are available for these resources.

Please note, our CD Hey Diddle Diddle! is not available for sale.

Do newborn book gift programs work?

A growing body of scientific evidence says YES. When a parent is cuddling their baby and reading them a story or sharing bright images in a book, the baby is receiving the experiences needed to wire the growing brain, including :

  • Visual stimulation

  • Hearing language which develops phonemic awareness and builds vocabulary

  • Loving touch and attention which helps foster bonding and attachment

  • Emergent literacy skills such as how to hold a book, and knowing that text goes from left to right

  • A positive association with books and reading

  • Reading readiness

Research has shown that providing parents with books and reading resources increases the amount of time spent reading to their baby. The Read to Me! bag connects families with reading resources in the community and helps to establish a routine of reading in the home.

Does Read to Me! conduct research to measure the impact of the program?

Read to Me! collects monthly statistics from all participating hospitals to ensure we are continually reaching our target goals.   In 2006 Read to Me! participated in an uptake study led by Dr. Patrick McGrath at the IWK Health Centre looking at the uptake of the bag and the use of individual program components. The study also measured changes in shared reading between parent and child as a result of receiving the Read to Me! bag. Research results showed parents who received the Read to Me! bag read to their baby more frequently and for a longer duration than parents who did not receive the Read to Me! bag. Research results from the Read to Me! uptake study can be found here.

Is the Read to Me! staff available to speak at conferences?

Yes, we are available to speak at conferences and workshops on topics including:

  • emergent literacy

  • selecting books for babies

  • how to introduce books to babies


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Contact Information

Phone: (902) 470-6487 or (902) 470-7763
Email: readtome@iwk.nshealth.ca
IWK Health Centre 
5850/5980 University Avenue 
PO Box 9700
Halifax, NS B3K 6R8
Fax: (902) 470-8785


Thanks so much for this great bag of books! I always knew that I would read to my child, but didn't know that I could start this early! We love the books already!

-Kelly M.

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