Too Small To Fail

Hillary Clinton Encourages Hispanics to Read to Their Children

Hillary Rodham Clinton is part of an effort to encourage Hispanic families to read, sing, and talk more to their young children in the hopes that they will be more prepared for school.

Last year the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, along with the San Francisco non-profit, Next Generation, started the «Too Small to Fail» campaign. Univision Communications Inc will take part in the campaign, running public service announcements and news programs focused on decreasing the word gap.

In the US, about twenty five percent of all babies and toddlers born are Hispanic, but they are less likely to have family members who will read or sing to them when compared to non-Latino children, this is according to a recent report by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. The focus of this campaign is to encourage Hispanic families to focus on activities that work to reduce the word gap for about 15 minutes a day.

In the 1990s, University of Kansas researchers, Betty Hart and Toidd Risley found that children in professional families heard 30 million more words by the age of 4 when compared to children whose parents received public assistance. When compared to children of working class families, children from professional families heard about 15 million more words. This gap in word exposure could lead to children easily falling behind and struggling to catch up to their peers.

When looking at statistics, Hispanic children are more likely to face poverty, frequent moves, and hunger. About a third of Hispanic children live with parents without a high school degree. According to Sandra Gutierrez, national program director of Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors, based in Los Angeles, many of these parents do not understand the power of reading, singing, and playing with their children. Others, particularly immigrants, are reluctant to do educational activities in Spanish because they want their children to learn English, but the enrichment in Spanish would be good for their children, said Delia Pompa, senior vice president for programs at National Council of La Raza. Both Gutierrez and Pompa serve on the «Too Small to Fail» advisory board.

Many Hispanic parents say that are low-income feel inadequate to teach their children. At the same time, access to Head Start is limited either due to long waiting lists or long distances. A large percentage of U.S. children don’t have access to pre-school. In his State of the Union, President Barack Obama renewed his call for universal access to pre-K.