Katherine Anne Layman, known to family and friends as “Baby Kate,” was born in June 2006. Shortly after her birth, she was diagnosed with congenital and heart defects. After enduring multiple medical procedures, including four open heart surgeries, Baby Kate was called Home and peacefully passed away in her mother’s arms at 18 months of age.
One of the things Kate absolutely adored during her hospitals stays was being read to and looking at books. Since there were many days when Kate could not be held after a surgery, her family would read to her as a way to bond and spend time together. When feeling better, Kate loved looking at interactive books that included touch and feel, lift the flap and books with musical buttons. Because of Kate’s heart defect, she never learned to walk, talk or crawl. Books were something she could manipulate on her own. It was one of the few activities she could engage in on her own. Many times, nurses and other staff were found reading to Kate. Kate loved books.
After Kate’s passing, her family was inspired to do something to encourage other families who were spending time in the hospital. In honor of Kate, and her love of books, her family decided to start giving away new books to children at their local hospital. Word of the Layman family’s efforts spread quickly and soon more volunteers and additional hospitals expressed interest in supporting their cause.
Books are simply the tool used to encourage and brighten the day of hospitalized children. Though the simple gift of a book may immediately bring a smile and a level of comfort to the patient, long-lasting effects are seen for both the child and their families. The ultimate goal is to promote literacy and encourage children and their families to read.
Through the gifting of new books, Kate's Kart strives to provide a comforting diversion to hospitalized children and their families, and to foster a love of books, and ultimately literacy, by encouraging children to read and parents to read to their children.
- Provides school age children the opportunity and resources to continue and to maintain the reading process during absence from formal classroom instruction.
- Allows a pediatric patient the opportunity to make a choice in an environment where the child has little control over his or her day.
- Gives Neonatal Intensive Care Unit parents a way to interact with their babies, including those they cannot touch or hold.
- Encourages all parents of pediatric patients to promote lifelong reading habits for their children while also providing comfort and positive distraction during a difficult and frightening time.
- Educates parents of newborns that no child is too young to be read to and that reading to a child at any age helps build vocabulary and is a way of bonding.