Books for BC Babies

Books 4 BC Babies in today's Vancouver Sun.

Author's 'uncle enzymes' fuelled bestselling book for newborns BY DARAH HANSEN, VANCOUVER SUN Richard Van Camp knew he was on to something special from the moment he began writing Welcome Song for Baby.

The Edmonton-based author was commissioned to write the book in 2006 just as close friends announced they were expecting their first child, followed quickly by news his brother and sister-in-law were also about to become new parents.

"I had uncle enzymes coursing through me," Van Camp recalled of his literary inspiration. "I wanted to put all that love, all those good wishes into this little lullaby.

The result was a Canadian bestseller, with parents and newborns across the country responding warmly to the board book's stunning photography and endearing storyline.

"Hey-yah-hey. Hey-yah-hey. Heyyah-hey. Dear one, cherished one, loved one. You have made the world beautiful again," the story reads -- its refrain a rhythmic tribute to Van Camp's aboriginal roots as a member of the Dogrib Dene from the Northwest Territories.

For Rhian Piprell, co-chair of Books for BC Babies, Welcome Song's unexpected success was one more reason to celebrate the importance of early literary.

Piprell's organization commissioned the story as part of its continuing mission to supply new moms and dads in the province with tools they need to engage their children in reading, as early as possible. Each year the organization releases a book by a Canadian author to about 42,000 families across B.C., along with a CD of songs and an information guide encouraging parents to read to their newborns.

"Reading, talking and singing to newborns are the best ways to build early language and literacy skills -- skills that impact a child's lifelong development," Piprell said.

"By providing a parenting resource at a crucial stage of a child's life, we can give kids the best chance at future success."

Hillel Goelman, an education professor at the University of B.C., said there is significant research to support the notion that children can learn much from books, even at a young age.

Early on, Goelman said, children associate positive emotions from the sensation of being held and cuddled by their parents or caregivers during storytime. "It creates an expectation that reading is a very pleasurable activity. It's fun," he said.

Reading is also a critical element in a child's vocabulary development. "They are building up a comprehension, the ability to understand what words mean," Goelman said.

Van Camp said he's thrilled to be part of a child's lifelong love of literacy.

"The things that you are passing on to a growing miracle have to be chosen really carefully so that's where Welcome Song for Baby really came from.

"It's really from that deep love that I have for humanity and wanting to pass on a great spirit every night it was read, wherever it was read." To learn more about Books for BC Babies, and how to contribute, go to

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