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Press Release

Bellevue Woman’s Center joins childhood literacy effort

Thursday, February 2, 2023

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. - — Bellevue Woman’s Center and the Schenectady County Public Library (SCPL) have launched Books for Babies at Bellevue to combat childhood illiteracy and give all newborns the best chance at a happy, healthy lif

Books for Babies at Bellevue was launched through the Schenectady Takes Action for Reading Success (STARS) program, which is a collaborative action campaign led by SCPL to spread free and diverse children's books throughout the city while motivating parents and caregivers to talk, read, and sing more with their children from birth. Since its inception in 2017, it has distributed more than 10,000 books through grants and private donations.

Through the Books for Babies initiative, Bellevue Woman’s Center will gift new parents with a STARS book to read to their child from day one.  Each book also will be bilingual and will contain a list of best practices for shared reading, concrete tools for engaging in literacy-rich activities, and information on how to connect with the public library and other community agencies invested in early literacy.

Books for Babies at Bellevue is funded by longtime Ellis and Bellevue supporters Neil and Mona Golub, in memory of the late Jane Golub, as well as 1st National Bank of Scotia, with support from the Wildwood Program. SCPL is serving as the lead organization in securing funding, processing the books, and coordinating volunteers. 

“Literacy is a public health issue, and at Bellevue, we want to give all of our newborns the best possible start in life,” said Paul Milton, President & CEO of Ellis Medicine. “We know it is as important to nourish a child’s brain as it is to nourish their body. Reading to a young child also strengthens the parent-child relationship at a critical time in the child’s development.  This is why we are excited to work with STARS to bring books and vital literacy information to our new parents."

“The Books for Babies at Bellevue initiative puts parents with newborn babies in Schenectady County on the path to educational success,” said Kaela Wallman, Coordinator of Youth Services for the Schenectady County Public Library. “It will gift every newborn at Bellevue Woman's Center with a new bilingual baby book and simple literacy tips on how to amplify the read-aloud experience. Early literacy is especially important to the public library, the Golubs, 1st National Bank of Scotia, and other community stakeholders. Books for Babies at Bellevue and STARS put concrete tools into parents' hands to be successful first teachers of their newborns.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the first three years of life are the most intensive period for speech and language development. Reading aloud is one of the best ways to expose young children to language, while helping to build the child’s vocabulary, imagination and understanding of the world.

“With great affection, we honor the memory of Jane (Golub) through the support of Books for Babies at Bellevue,” said Neil and Mona Golub, the educational advocate’s husband and daughter.  “As a former elementary school teacher, Jane understood just how important childhood literacy is to a happy, successful life. She would have loved this initiative.” 

“We are excited about this partnership and the opportunity to provide the families with books,” said John Buhrmaster, President & CEO of 1st National Bank of Scotia. “Encouraging our youth to read, at any age, is essential to improving literacy rates in our communities, and a primary focus for many community banks.”

Schenectady County Legislator Sara Mae Pratt, Chair of the Education & Libraries Committee, added: “Access to books at an early is essential to boosting literacy and helping kids build a strong foundation that will prepare them for a lifetime of reading and learning. We’d like to thank all of our partners who have helped make this project possible and look forward to continuing to grow the STARS program to serve even more families in Schenectady County.” 

Childhood literacy is about more than education. Research has linked low literacy levels with poor health outcomes, including higher rates of hospitalization and more frequent outpatient visits. This has prompted the medical community to treat illiteracy as a public health issue and to take on a more active role in combating it.

The Books for Babies at Bellevue initiative complements the existing Reach Out and Read program funded by local donations at Ellis’ primary care and mental health practices. Reach Out and Read, a national nonprofit, also builds on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers to promote and develop critical early reading skills in children.




Ellis Medicine is a 438-bed community and teaching healthcare system serving New York’s Capital Region. With five campuses — Ellis Hospital, McClellan Street Health Center, Bellevue Woman’s Center, Mohawk Harbor and the Medical Center of Clifton Park — and approximately 3,000 employees, Ellis Medicine is proud to provide a lifetime of care for patients. Ellis offers an extensive array of inpatient and outpatient services — including cardiac, cancer, emergency, mental health, and women’s services.


STARS is an early literacy action campaign led by the Schenectady Public Library to spread free and diverse children's books throughout the Schenectady community. Other partners include the Wildwood Program, Schenectady County Public Health Services, Reading Is Fun, Ellis Medicine, and Schenectady Community Ministries.

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