Eight Waves launches Books for Babies program

All new babies born at a local hospital will receive a book to start them on their reading journey.

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Sara Meyer remembers crying after dropping by a home in which there were no children’s books.

Sara Meyer wants to put children’s books in the hands of as many newborns as she can.

“I visited a very low-income home here in Winter Garden; she had toddlers and had just had a baby,” Meyer said. “I was trying to help (with the toddlers) and said, ‘Hey, do you have a book I can read?’ ‘No, we don’t have books here,’ she said. It never occurred to me that someone wouldn’t own a book.”

She discovered — and was troubled by the fact that — many other families don’t provide books for their little ones either.

This would be the spark needed to start Books for Babies, an initiative of the nonprofit Eight Waves program in West Orange County. Meyer, a Lake County resident and the founder and executive director of Eight Waves, launched the book program in March at Orlando Health South Lake Hospital.

She said she researched the million-word gap and learned children in lower socioeconomic households were more likely to be exposed to significantly fewer words before they started school and, therefore, were at a learning disadvantage.

“A ton of low-income families fall into that gap because they don’t have the funds to buy a new book,” Meyer said.

“Scientific studies show if you read to your child three times a week at 15 minutes (each), that’s all it takes,” Meyer said.

What about checking out books at the local library? 

A lack of driver’s license or identification card, or no way to get to the library, keep some families away, she said.

Meyer learned of a Books for Babies program at a hospital in another state and reached out to Orlando Health. The closest hospital for many of West Orange County’s low-income families is South Lake, and there are an estimated 1,200 births there annually.

The first delivery of books — with about 35 different titles in English and Spanish — has been made, and 439 babies will receive a new board book along with a Books for Babies pamphlet.

“We created this really sweet brochure that’s really fun and education, and the point of it is we hear about car seat safety and we hear about SIDS but we don’t hear about the super power of reading to your child,” Meyer said. “If we start it at birth, it becomes important, and it lasts. And it will continue to be important.”

Meyer said the program has been a success so far and she is eager to reach even more babies through pediatric offices in West Orange County. Offices interested in partnering with Eight Waves can send an email to Meyer at [email protected].

She suggested businesses might want to help sponsor too, and they can put a sticker in the book. Meyer said all babies will receive a book, not just low-income families.

Books for Babies has three volunteers: Tia Collins, Becky Myers and Tracey Rice, and Meyer is grateful for their dedication in getting the appropriate books into the community’s youngest readers.


Eight Waves invests in the lives of children, youth and families who live in under-resourced communities by working together, building the healthy support systems they need to thrive, and empowering them to create lasting change in their own lives and communities.

Its mission is for every child to experience a variety of positive and encouraging opportunities — providing a sense of belonging and allowing each child the ability to achieve his or her full potential both individually and as a member of the community.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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