Why from birth? Infants don't read!
Infants don't read, and early book-sharing is not at all about "teaching" them to read anymore than babbling and cooing with them is about to "teaching" them to talk. Babies learn constantly, about everything they see, touch, and hear. Book sharing for babies is about seeing beautiful, stimulating images while hearing the sound of your voice. A parent's touch and voice is a powerful thing for infants. Pleasurable moments of book sharing from the start lead to connecting words and sounds with symbolic representations of them in illustrations and written lettersm just as pleasurable moments of babbling and cooing, along with repeated labeling of people and things ("mama" "papa" "cup" "blanket") leads to understanding and speaking words. Talk. Read. Sing. Your baby is looking and listening constantly.
I want all children to come in to consciousness as book owners: I want them to encounter books from their first moments of awareness, to bump in to them while crawling around their home environment so that books are part of their life from the beginning, a simple Given in their surroundings and awareness.
And not just any books: Excellent ones.
I want all children to know books belong to them, and they belong in books. So, for a broadly distributed collection it's vital that it reflect a diversity of people and their roles, culture and environments. Imagination Library hits that mark, as well as many other important developmental marks, including feeding the imagination.
Books are sustenance for the brain, the mind - including imagination, vital to later intellectual development! - and emotions. Just as access to clean water enhances the health and vigor of an individual and broad access of it does so for whole communities, access to an abundance of well-selected age-appropriate books enhances brain, mind, and emotional development of a single child; broad distribution does so for a community.
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library and our Funding Partners both institutional and individual make it possible for us to offer broad access of an excellent collection to our community's children. We aspire to saturate Berkeley's 0-5 year old population with excellent personal libraries. After that, we want to bring the IL Program to other communities.