A new initiative from Every Child Ready Duluth will start helping new parents with early literacy learning. Beginning Thursday, St. Louis County home visiting nurses will begin distributing literacy bags from the Duluth Public Library to parents of newborns.

Each bag will contain board books, a booklet of songs and rhymes, tips from the library about reading to babies and toddlers and information about getting babies library cards. Additionally, library staff will train St. Louis County home nurses to share tips for reading to babies with new parents when they visit them in their homes.

The Every Child Ready Duluth initiative is focused on helping ensure that children are ready for kindergarten.

"We want children to have access to books as soon as they’re born,” said librarian Carmella Hatch in a news release on the project. “So they have as many opportunities as possible to build early literacy skills and develop a love of reading. We also want to support parents by integrating tips for reading, singing, playing, talking and writing with babies into the information parents receive from home visiting nurses. We want parents to know that the library is here to support them with books, toys, and more … all for free!”

The first 200 literacy bags were paid for by the Rotary Club of Duluth, Essentia Health and the Duluth Library Foundation. The organization is looking for funding to expand the program in the future.