Girl Scout’s Service Project Collected Books to Read to Preemies

Two mini-libraries were set-up for parents to read to their babies.

Mar 31, 2020

(1000 Words Photos / Shutterstock.com)

Anoushka Talwar, a 14 –year-old from Forsyth, Georgia was awarded the Silver Award – the second-highest award a Girl Scout can earn – for a service project that has a very special place in her heart, helping tiny babies.

That’s because Anoushka and her brother were both premature (born before 37 weeks) and weighed just over two pounds at birth, said the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Both kids are perfectly fine with no lasting effects from being born early.

She chose to collect books for parents to read to their preemies in the neonatal units of two Atlanta hospitals – Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory Johns Creek, the hospital where her brother was born – because parents do not get to hold their tiny babies so reading to them is a way of bonding.

“My dad used to tell me how he would read to me and my brother at the hospital every single day,” Anoushka told AJC; “and how it was beneficial to a child’s brain and how it was a good way to bond with a child through an incubator.”

Her goal was to gather 100 books for the hospitals but she has far exceeded that by collecting 450.

“But every time she went out, she came back with at least 20 books,” her mother, Shweta Kumar, said. “She was quite determined.”

Anoushka collected the books by going door to door in her neighborhood. “At every door and house I went to, I would explain what my project was,” she said. “Parents can’t have any physical contact with their premature babies. All they can do is sing, read and talk to them.”

Today, there are two mini-libraries in the neonatal units of the Atlanta hospitals that are stocked with 300 hardcover books – these are easier to keep sterile – and the paperback books are given to parents to take home with their babies’ when they leave.

Christine Wollenhaup, director of Women’s Services at Emory Johns Creek stressed how important parent’s reading and talking to their babies is to their development. “Babies that receive loving words have double the vocabulary of those who did not – by the time they reach five years of age,” Wollenhaup said.

Now, Anoushka hopes to go for the gold later this year, a goal that is only reached by six percent of all Girl Scouts according to AJC. She hasn’t decided yet but she thinks the project may deal with animal cruelty – she just became a vegetarian – or possible also with premature babies.
Her future goals are to either become a lawyer or a police detective. “I just like helping people,” she said. Whatever Anoushka does, she will do with kindness and a full heart.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.