A Story of Giving
What do books mean to children visiting UVA Children’s Hospital and its clinics? Books help calm fears and make wait times pass more quickly. They take some of the anxiety out of a hospital or doctor visit. Whether it’s Curious George or Tucker Mouse, the characters from cherished books take young patients to imaginary new worlds beyond the hospital’s or clinic’s walls. And that’s the point.
Another point is to help children develop a love of reading and learn to read well. It’s a mission that the Soho Center has promoted for 45 years, fostering literacy and school success for hundreds of thousands of children.
That’s why Soho has donated more than 200,000 quality children’s books to UVA Children’s Hospital, with more to come. That’s about $3 million of great books. All are being given away free to young patients and their brothers and sisters as they arrive for appointments. Every child visiting UVA Children’s Hospital and its pediatric clinics can choose and take home a free book at each visit. The book giveaways extend from the Battle Building to outpatient clinics and even the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where parents are encouraged to read aloud to their new babies.
“Everything Soho does is a labor of love,” says Jeanna Beker, Soho Center’s founder and director. “Decades ago, my husband George and I decided that Soho would offer free programs and services and help tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of children each year. That’s exactly what we do every year—with the help of very generous donors, innovative partnerships with nonprofits and agencies, and a diverse group of supportive individuals and organizations.”
“We do all we can to help our young patients reach their full potential—physically, mentally, and emotionally,” says Jim Nataro, MD, physician-in-chief, UVA Children’s Hospital. “I am delighted by our partnership with the Soho Center and Jeanna and George Beker. We are extremely grateful for their generous gifts of books and for their personal commitment to UVA Children’s Hospital.
For the families visiting UVA Children’s Hospital or related clinics, the books are a happy surprise.
“They look at me and say ‘REALLY? This is for my child to keep? Are you SURE?’” says hospital teacher Patty Carrubba. “The toddlers grasp their ‘prize’ and thank me over and over. There’s a five-year-old boy with autism who spends countless hours searching a pop-up book for the animal in the trees. There are low-income families who are astounded to have new, beautiful books to enjoy. Thanks to Soho, we have wonderful books for toddlers to teens.”
The Soho Center also gives quality books to programs across Virginia, including Head Start classrooms, after-school programs, early childhood programs, and public library summer feeding/reading programs.
For information on Soho’s Book Giveaways, please visit www.child2000.org/books and see www.child2000.org/literacy for tips to help children love books and reading.