Parents visiting the Baltimore County Health Department are finding extra encouragement these days to read to their children.
In "Prescription to Read," a partnership between the county public library system and the Health Department, pamphlets are being distributed at the eight county health centers that include lists of recommended books for children and adults.
The book lists, which also are available in health centers at eight county schools, include titles intended to help adults improve their parental skills and others that are suitable to be read by children.
It includes books recommended on subjects as diverse as the birth of a baby, death of a family member, toilet training and divorce.
"We want to help parents learn about ways to raise their children, and we also want to encourage them to use the library," said Lynn Lockwood, assistant director of the library system. "Encouraging parents and children to read together is a healthy habit."
The guides are handed out in colorful plastic bags that have teddy bears and the slogan, "I read to my baby," and are accompanied by "Our Little Reader" magnets that have a space for parents to write the location, hours and phone number of their neighborhood public library.
At the Towson health center, parents can pick up the guides and walk down the hall to Loch Raven Mini-Library.
"We see a lot of pregnant women and women with young children, and the topics covered in this are perfect for them," said Linda Sonczewski, nursing supervisor of the Towson and Dundalk health centers.
"One of the nice things is that the booklet doesn't just include the names of the books. It also has exactly where to find the books on the library shelves, so it's even easier for people to use it," she said.
Sonczewski said the guides also are being handed out in home visits that the Health Department makes to new and expecting families.