JOPLIN, Mo. — An area organization gives the gift of reading to give back to some of the youngest in our community.

Members of Soroptimist International of Joplin donated $500 to the Ronald McDonald House, who in turn used that money to buy children’s books. Those books were taken to the Freeman Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where parents and volunteers can use them to read to infants.

Amanda Mitchell is a member of both the Soroptimists and Ronald McDonald House and had a daughter in the NICU for 45 days. She says she noticed no one else reading to their children.

“I felt like it was such an important thing to be able to read to my child while she was in the NICU so she could hear my voice and uh and just be able to have that bonding time with her,” said Mitchell.

“Reading to your child helps their cognitive development exponentially and it also helps with the bond between the parent and the baby, they know your voice, it provides a lot of comfort and it also like starts teaching them about reading and stories and it just really helps with their development,” said Bethany McGinnis, Assistant Director of Maternal Child, Freeman Health System.

Some of the books in the new collection have both an English and Spanish version.