Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing

  • Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing

    Case Study: “Talking is Teaching”

    Affluent children hear 30 million more words than kids from lower-income homes. This disparity has a huge impact on the development of their brains and has long-term implications for their success in school and beyond.
    Instead of coming up with just another brochure or PSA campaign, we came up with an innovative solution: a clothing line (free to low-income parents) and an outdoor campaign that prompt parents to talk, read and sing to their kids.
    The campaign, which seeks to close the word gap in a practical way, launched in Oakland, California, this summer and is now being rolled out nationally.
    Developed for the Bay Area Council, the campaign highlights how simple actions done every day from birth—such as describing objects seen during a bus ride, singing songs, reading aloud or telling stories—can significantly improve babies’ abilities to build vocabulary and can boost their brain development.
    “What makes this campaign different is that it’s not just another brochure,” said Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We are bringing learning opportunities to Oakland by giving parents actual tools—a onesie for the baby, a blanket, a bath towel—that will spark conversation.”
    The onesies, blankets and other materials are distributed free of charge at more than 15 locations: Oakland hospitals, pediatric clinics, family playgroups, childcare programs and First 5 Alameda County.
    While the tote bags will be distributed free of charge at the locations listed above, those parents who wish to order materials directly from the website can do so at
    The campaign also features billboards and bus-shelter ads with prompts like “Let’s talk about the bus” that will remind parents that everyday activities are an opportunity to help their children develop.
    The idea caught the attention of national funders who have plans to make it the model for a national initiative. To date, 60,000 garments have been distributed, and it rolled out to a second city, Tulsa, Oklahoma, in November 2014. Plans are in the works to introduce the program to 20 additional citities in 2015.