Books for Babies for 2021

The Keokuk Education Association has received an Iowa State Education Association Community Outreach Grant for the fourth year in a row to continue a Books for Babies campaign through 2021. Every baby born in the Ft. Madison Community Hospital during 2021 will receive a free book along with information about local library programs and parent tips for reading with baby. According to a 20-year study led by Mariah Evans, University of Nevada, Reno, having as few as 20 books in the home has a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education, and the more books you add, the greater the benefit. “We want to encourage families to read together long before they come to preschool. We have wonderful local library services to help with that,” said Diane Berner, who submitted the grant application.


Heather Stevenson, FMCH Director of Maternal Child, is pleased the program will continue for another year. “We are so grateful to Diane for bringing the Books for Babies program to FMCH.  This program not only provides books to our newborns, but also encourages positive interaction between parents and their children while educating the parents on resources available to them.” 

Registered Nurse Taylor Weirather has recently been a recipient of the program. “We put the baby’s footprint on the inside cover. It’s my favorite book.” 

Angie Budnik, FMCH Community Relations Director, and Kat Cook, Keokuk Public Library Youth Services director assisted with coordination and materials.  

The Iowa State Education Association provides community outreach funds to encourage members and local associations to collaborate and create opportunities for community service or school projects. The funded projects should meet an identified need within the community, be sustainable and help build visible foundations for deeper relationships with students, families and communities. ISEA’s mission is to “promote quality public education by placing students at the center of everything we do while advocating for education professionals.”


“We are thrilled to be able to continue this successful program with the support of KEA, ISEA, FMCH, and the Keokuk Public Library. This is truly a community effort to improve literacy,” said Berner.


Books and materials for the 2021 Books for Babies program were delivered to the Fort Madison Community Hospital.

Pictured are Taylor Weirather, RN, FMCH Birthplace, and Diane Berner, Keokuk Education Association Secretary. Photo: Madeline Berner