Damon and Krystal Ward have been teaching their twin daughters to love reading since they were newborns in the hospital. 

The couple began reading to the twins, Amelie and Bryn, during a four-month hospital stay in Charlotte after they were born. Now that the girls are 3 years old, reading has become a bedtime ritual. 

The girls usually enjoy reading three books each night at bedtime with their parents. They also read during the day with a nanny and during a preschool program.

“They love it,” said Damon Ward, principal of the Central Child Development Center in Rock Hill. The girls are excited to bring their parents favorite books that they want to hear each night, and they enjoy turning the pages and mimicking reading.

Ward said the twins especially love the “Little Dino” books that they received from their pediatrician’s office through Reach Out and Read, a national evidence-based program that promotes early reading.

The Early Learning Partnership provides the Read out and Read program in pediatric medical offices across York County. Through ELP’s collaboration with the national ROR office and its ROR-Carolinas affiliate, ELP provides training and children’s books that are diverse and age and language appropriate. ELP also supports the medical team, which promotes bonding, early brain development, and a love of learning in young children and families during their well-child visits.

Ward said the “Little Dino” series “is simple and easy for toddlers to understand. Our girls went through a toddler stage of putting everything in their mouths, and ‘Little Dinos Don’t Bite’ was a great age-appropriate resource that reminds children they should only bite their food.”

Ward knows the value of early reading. “I think it helps them expand their vocabulary,” he said, adding that reading also encourages them to be more interested in and curious about learning new things.

In addition to the “Little Dino” books, he said the girls enjoy the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” series and nonfiction books about farm animals and jungle animals. The family is collecting a lot of books for the girls, he said.

Ward is a believer in the value of the effort to promote reading at an early age. “It’s a great program,” he said. “I hope it continues to grow and flourish.”