BRISTOL, Tenn. — Those who gathered for the launch of the picture book “It’s Bristol, Baby!” at Bristol Regional Medical Center’s Monarch Auditorium on Tuesday were treated to 7-year-old Mira Morgan giving the book its first public reading.

Mira, the daughter of Ballad Health Senior Manager of Communication Meaghan Smith, read the book aloud to attendees who were there to get a first glimpse at a project brought to fruition by Twin City Reads, Ballad Health, United Way of Bristol, the Bristol Public Library, Bristol’s Promise and Reading Buddies.

The book is part of a local initiative to spearhead reading in the home from an early age to improve literacy, reading comprehension and ensure success later in life.

The event featured city officials and organization representatives. Children from the YWCA Wellmont Child Development Center also performed the “Bristol Baby Bounce,” a country dance routine, which is featured in the picture book.

There are currently 6,000 copies of the book in print, and families of babies born at Bristol Regional Medical Center will receive it for free.

The book will be available at United Way of Bristol, the Bristol Public Library, the Bristol Chamber of Commerce, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, Bristol Regional Medical Center and some other locations. Funds from books purchased from the library and Bristol Regional will go to their respective children’s programs, and proceeds from those purchased from United Way will go to the printing of more books.

The book is written by Massachusetts-based author Shirley Vernick, who wrote similar children’s books titled “I Love You, Michigan Baby” and “Boston Baby.” She is also an award-winning author of three young adult fiction novels. The book’s illustrator, Paige Garrison, an Irvine, California-based freelance illustrator and painter, provided art for other children’s books, including “Roanoke Baby,” a children’s book about Roanoke, Virginia.

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276-645-2512 | | Twitter: @Leif_Greiss

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