Clinton encourages reading in Hispanic families

2014-02-04 10:05
Hillary Clinton speaks in New Orleans. Clinton is helping initiate a public service campaign encouraging Hispanic families to read, sing and talk more to their young children so they’re better prepared for school. (File, AP)

Hillary Clinton speaks in New Orleans. Clinton is helping initiate a public service campaign encouraging Hispanic families to read, sing and talk more to their young children so they’re better prepared for school. (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Hillary Rodham Clinton is helping initiate a public service campaign encouraging Hispanic families to read, sing and talk more to their young children so they're better prepared for school.

About a quarter of all babies and toddlers in the US are Hispanic, but these kids are half as likely to have family members read to them and a third less likely to have songs sung to them than white, non-Latino children, according to a recent report by the Robert R McCormick Foundation.

The effort is part of the "Too Small to Fail" campaign started last year by the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and Next Generation, a San Francisco-based non-profit.

A partner in the effort is Univision Communications, a New York-based Spanish language network that will run a series of public service announcements and news programmes with segments focused on the topic.

Clinton was expected to participate in the campaign launch on Tuesday at a bilingual Head Start programme in East Harlem in New York. Clinton, a long-time supporter of early childhood programmes, is a former secretary of state, first lady and senator of New York.

She is considering another White House bid in 2016 and expects to make a decision later this year.

The focus is simple: tackling what's known as the "word gap" by encouraging Hispanic families to focus on these activities for at least 15 minutes daily.

‘Too small to fail’

Research published by the late University of Kansas researchers Betty Hart and Todd Risley in the '90s highlighted the phenomenon in which children in professional families hear an average of 30 million more words by the time they were 4 than children of parents accepting public assistance, and 15 million more words than children from working-class families.

Children with less exposure are more likely to start school behind their peers and not catch up.

Hispanic children are also more likely than their white peers to face other barriers such as poverty, frequent moves and hunger.

About a third of Hispanic children live with parents without a high school degree. Many of these parents don't understand the power of reading, singing and playing with their young children, said Sandra Gutierrez, national programme director of Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors, based in Los Angeles.

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 programmes at National Council of La Raza. Both Gutierrez and Pompa serve on the "Too Small to Fail" advisory board.

Pascuala Natalia Leal, aged 25, a mother of three who immigrated from Mexico as a young girl, said she thinks some low-income parents feel inadequate to teach the kids. At the same time, she said, families she knows either can't get their children into a Head Start programme because of long wait lists or they travel long distances each day so their children can participate.

"There's a lot of lack of information for families and parents," said Leal, whose daughter attends the Head Start in East Harlem. She planned to attend the event on Tuesday.

Jose Pagan, aged 35, a father of two born in Puerto Rico, said many parents are just busy working so they can pay for basic necessities, but said: "you have to make time for your child." His child also attends the Head Start programme.

A large percentage of US 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-school.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    hillary clinton  |  barack obama  |  bill clinton  |  us publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Boks set to turn new Paige at No 9
Probe into England RWC exit on the rocks
Boks could get posh England base
Wallaby stars to join Boks at BaaBaas
Traffic Alerts

Relationships and significant connections may play an important role in your day today. Let the warmth of the Leo moon inspire more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.