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Book supports families of earlybird babies

Wednesday, July 3, 2019   Posted in: Resources and Information By: Administrator With tags: children, fundraising, reading, Community Groups

A special book for families of premature babies is bringing delight, comfort and hope.

Earlybird is written by Julie Burgess-Manning and illustrated by Jenny Cooper from Patricia Champion’s themes and storyline. It tells the story of Peri Pukeko who hatched early, as he gets ready to go home and as he learns to fly.

The book is a project by the Champion Foundation Trust. It is being given to any family with a baby born prematurely and who is a patient at one of the country’s six Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU), and is also available for purchase nationally and internationally.

Christchurch Hospital Neonatal Nurse Manager Debbie O’Donoghue says she would like to acknowledge the generous support that has made this possible. “The giving of these books provides a further opportunity for families to read to their babies in the NICU, providing that calming and reassuring voice for their baby.”

The benefits of reading to a baby are well researched and include supporting brain growth and development and also promoting future positive reading habits. “This particular book also gives the opportunity for parents to share the neonatal experience with wider family and the baby themselves in years to come,” Debbie says.

Patricia Champion founded the Champion Centre and is the assistant editor of Earlybird. She says the book was written to give children born early and their families a story about their own precious beginning.

It is unique internationally as a children’s story about premature birth, Patricia says. “Parents of premature babies frequently told me that they did not have a good or a special story to share with their growing children about their early birth. So we decided to create a beautiful picture book that would help parents support children born as ‘earlybirds’ to make sense of the experience.”

The book captures the realm of emotions through the baby’s journey as they become ready to go home. “It is also a helpful resource for older siblings and provides a pathway for families to talk to children about their own experiences,” she says.

The author and the Champion Foundation worked closely with a group of parents who shared their experiences of having a premature baby in creating the book, and consulted with a range of child development experts from New Zealand, Britain and the United States.

Purchase a copy of Earlybird from the Champion Centre website. The book is $30 including free delivery.

The Champion Centre provides early intervention services to Canterbury children with significant developmental delays, disabilities and learning challenges.