(Updated at 11:25 a.m. on 6/9/2021) “Reston Baby,” a new bilingual board book about life in the community, is being gifted to all Reston newborns.
Starting next week, every baby born at Reston Hospital Center will receive the picture book prior to leaving the hospital. For babies not born at that hospital, they (or their parents) can pick up a free copy at the Reston Historic Trust & Museum at Lake Anne Plaza.
Developed by a retired Sunrise Valley Elementary School principal, the book tells the story of Reston through illustrations, words, and bright colors.
“Our biggest goal…was for parents to really understand the value and importance of reading to their children from birth,” said former principal and project founder Dr. Beth English, who is also a literacy educator. “The second purpose was to give Reston families a sense of the uniqueness of the community in which they live.”
The book is primarily comprised of illustrations drawn by Molly Bergin that highlight Reston’s well-known history and landmarks. This includes information about founder Robert E. Simon, nature trails, the Reston Community Center, and the farmers markets.
English says the book was written in both English and Spanish to reflect the community’s values of diversity as well as appreciating art.
The book additionally features Reston’s mascot, Walker Woodpecker.
Reston Museum & Historic Trust is helping shepherd the project and distribute the book.
Alex Campbell, the museum’s executive director, says “Reston Baby” fits well into the museum’s mission.
“It’s a really wonderful community project…Our mission is to inform the present, but also influence the future,” Campbell said. “This is one way we can do that.”
The museum also now hosts an outdoor program called “Storytime for Little Historians” every Tuesday, and “Reston Baby” will be part of that series too.
Over the past year, the Reston Museum has continued to experiment with different ways to fulfill its mission within the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re continually looking for ways to engage the community of all ages in a variety of different ways,” Campbell said.
English says she got the idea for the book last year toward the beginning of the pandemic.
While attending a virtual, statewide literacy conference, she learned about Roanoke’s baby board book. She consulted with the head of the library services there, who gave her a blueprint for her own project, including publisher recommendations, the cost, and thoughts on funding it.
English took the idea back to friends and fellow educators, who all agreed it was a great idea.
She started working on it April 10, 2020, and now, 14 months later, Reston Baby is written, illustrated, published, and ready for distribution.
A number of notable Reston organizations helped fund the $15,000 needed for the book’s first printing, including Reston Association, Reston Community Center, Reston Town Center Association, Friends of the Reston Regional Library, and Friends of Reston.
With that money, English was able to publish 4,200 books.
About 200 babies are born at Reston Hospital Center a month, a spokesperson for the hospital confirmed to Reston Now. Even adding in Reston babies born at other hospitals or in other areas, English expects this printing will be enough to provide every newborn a free book for at least the next year.
The book will also be available for sale online and at the Reston Museum.
Once all the books are distributed, English anticipates raising more money for a second printing.
English says she’s already given away a few copies of the book, including to a Reston Hospital nurse who just had her own baby and to her soon-to-be-born granddaughter.
“I’m going to be a grandmother at the end of this month. It’s my first,” English said. “And I sent [a book] to my son and daughter-in-law in Boston because I want my baby granddaughter to know where her grandmother lives.”
Photo courtesy Reston Museum & Historic Trust