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Mayor Gray Kicks off Early-Literacy Campaign and Urges Parents to Sing, Talk and Read with Young Children

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mayor Gray Kicks off Early-Literacy Campaign and Urges Parents to Sing, Talk and Read with Young Children

Campaign helps build literacy skills and get children ready for school

(Washington, DC) Research shows that talking about your day or telling a story, singing made-up songs or songs from the radio and reading children’s books with young children all help build literacy skills and prepare them to learn when they go to school. Today, at the Dorothy I. Height/Benning Library, Mayor Vincent C. Gray launched a campaign to raise awareness of the important role parents and caregivers play in getting their children ready to learn. The Mayor was joined by DC Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services BB Otero, Interim State Superintendent of Education Emily Durso and representatives from the State Early Childhood Development Coordinating Council. 

The “Sing, Talk and Read DC” campaign targets parents and caregivers of children from birth through 8 years of age and emphasizes the importance of weaving singing, talking and reading into daily activities with young children. The campaign is based on research showing that conversations, gestures and interactions between parents/caregivers and children from birth builds a foundation for learning. The campaign highlights tips for parents and caregivers, including talking to a baby while fixing dinner, singing while changing a diaper and reading at bedtime. 

“The District has a long history of leadership in early-childhood education, and I am committed to focusing on all children arriving at kindergarten ready to learn,” said Mayor Gray. “Today, we begin to take steps to ensure that parents and caregivers help the children in their care learn from their earliest days and years. By connecting community partners with government agencies to reach parents, this campaign expands the District’s work in early literacy to ensure our city’s babies start strong in the years before school.”

“Working with young children to make sure they show up to school ready to learn is one of the most important things your library does,” said Cooper. “This campaign reinforces what many parents already do while presenting new ideas to support learning every day. Parents who sing, talk and read help their child’s brain develop the thinking and language abilities that are the building blocks for learning.” 

The three-month public awareness campaign’s elements include: radio, print, television, mobile and online advertising; brochures and other marketing materials with tips for parents and caregivers; instructional videos; and community outreach to local businesses, places of worship, social service agencies, city agencies and non-profit organizations. Residents and organizations interested in volunteering to do outreach can email the library at libraryvolunteers@dc.gov

Created by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, a new early-childhood website that serves as a one-stop shop for parents to find information, resources and services for their young child, www.learndc.org/earlychildhood, launches today. Additionally the website features tips for parents to sing, talk and read with their children as well as book recommendations. 

The library is the lead agency on the Sing, Talk and Read DC campaign, in partnership with the Offices of the Deputy Mayors for Education and Health and Human Services, and the State Early Childhood Development Coordinating Council. The Junior League of Washington and the Scholastic Corporation have each donated 4,000 books for young children. 

The campaign addresses goals and outcomes for children and families from the Mayor’s Early Success Framework, including linking families to opportunities and resources that strengthen their role as parents; helping families access information about high-quality early childhood and development settings for children; increasing families’ ability to identify and select high-quality early childhood services and supports; and improving families’ knowledge and practice of nurturing behaviors and parenting. 

The $500,000 campaign is funded by the Mayor’s office and the State Early Childhood Development Coordinating Council.