KIPS BAY — Bellevue Hospital is giving free books to its youngest patients once again, more than five months after Hurricane Sandy destroyed the hospital's entire stock of brand new books and brought the giveaway program to a halt.
Thanks to a donation of 7,000 books from We Give Books and the Pearson Foundation, the hospital at 462 First Ave. is relaunching its Reach Out and Read program, giving books to children in the hospital's pediatric clinics to promote early literacy, Bellevue announced this week.
“[The program] really impacts families,” said Claudia Aristy, director of Reach Out and Read. “It helps children develop literacy skills at an early age, and we want to prepare these children who are most likely coming from families with less resources.”
When Hurricane Sandy hit Bellevue, the hospital's basement flooded with 7 million gallons of water, wiping out 7,000 books that were set to be given to pediatric patients.
"They were brand new books stored in the basement and all of them were destroyed," Aristy said.
On Wednesday afternoon, the program received its largest donation since the storm, which will restock Belleveue's inventory.
The hospital celebrated the delivery of the books with an event on Wednesday, featuring a special visit from famous children’s book heroine “Ladybug Girl.”
“Now, the children are associating books with the hospital,” Aristy said. “It’s really cool to see a doctor’s visit associated with something so positive.
"Some of the parents tell me that when they get home from the hospital, their kids ask, ‘Where’s my book?'”