Baby's First Books Available at All UH Maternity Hospitals

Every couple of months, about 20 volunteers from OverDrive, the leading digital platform for eBooks, audiobooks and other digital media, and University Hospitals gather at OverDrive to pack 2,000 tote bags as part of the Baby’s First Books program. The bags contain four books, an information packet on early literacy and how parents can engage with their newborns, and instructions on how to sign up for a library card.

Baby’s First Books launched in the fall of 2021 at UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital and UH Portage Medical Center and has now expanded to all UH maternity hospitals. The program is funded through a generous gift from Steve and Loree Potash, who also established the Steve and Loree Potash Women & Newborn Center at UH Ahuja Medical Center. Steve is the president and CEO of OverDrive and a UH Board member.

“Everyone likes their baby to be acknowledged and to get gifts,” said Erin Inwood, Perinatal Services Coordinator. “Parents, siblings and grandparents often go through the bag together and pull out the books. Often, I hear grandparents say, ‘I read that to you when you were a child.’”

Erin said for many parents, books are a luxury. “These free options such as the library card and providing books allows us to promote early literacy and show how it helps brain development from birth.”