National Momentum Builds to Close the Word Gap
It’s not every day that we get a chance to celebrate victories, is it? But lately the good news about local efforts to close the word gap has been buoying all of us at Too Small to Fail. People across the country are in agreement that talking, reading and singing to children from birth strengthens bonds with them and builds vocabularies so they can better prepare for school.
In this newsletter, we’d like to share some of that good news with you.
In case you missed it, last week Too Small to Fail launched its first local campaign in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Working with community partners like the George Kaiser Family Foundation, CAP Tulsa, and Tulsa Educare, we announced a campaign that will help parents and caregivers increase the number of words they speak directly to their babies and toddlers every day. We’re really excited about this initiative, and are hopeful that by working with local pediatricians, faith-based leaders, business owners and others to share the campaign’s messages, we can help close the word gap in Tulsa.
In Chicago, PNC Foundation (part of the PNC Bank) just announced a $19 million, multi-year initiative to help Chicago parents and caregivers build their children’s vocabularies. The initiative will fund early learning and vocabulary programs—including the Thirty Million Words Initiative started by Too Small to Fail advisory council member Dr. Dana Suskind—and will track the progress of the participating families for several years.
The city of Providence, Rhode Island, announced just two weeks ago that it was launching an intensive program that combines home visitation with other community-wide efforts to empower parents to close the word gap by speaking and reading more to their children. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras has been a committed advocate on this issue, and expects the program to eventually help more than 2,000 families in the area.
And First Five California recently launched its new effort to help parents and caregivers understand the importance of using everyday moments to build their children’s vocabularies in a statewide campaign called “Talk. Read. Sing.”. Commercials and radio spots are filling the air with messages about baby and toddler development, and ways to get parents and little kids more engaged in talk and play.
Finally, our partner Univision Communications announced this week a national month-long effort named “Accion por los Niños” aimed at Hispanic families to raise awareness and increase the time they spend talking, reading and singing to their very young children. The media company will host a series of events across the country including reading gardens with Univision celebrities, special programming in affiliate stations and press events with elected leaders.
We hope you find this good news encouraging, and that you can find a way to support efforts to close the word gap—either in your family or your community. Either way, we look forward to hearing about it.
In The News:
- “Efforts to Close the Achievement Gap in Kids Start at Home”, NPR, March 17, 2014.
- “PNC Launches $19 Million Vocabulary Initiative in Chicago”, Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2014.
- “Trying to Close a Knowledge Gap, Word by Word”, New York Times, March 25, 2014.
VIDEO: Check out one of the First Five California ads that aims to empower parents and caregivers to close the word gap. >>