It’s Everyday Advocacy time again! I joined the ALSC’s Winter Challenge, because one of my professional goals this year is to increase my advocacy efforts. This first week’s challenge is to craft another elevator speech – a quick response to “what do you do?” that gets the point across and hopefully, generates some interest that could lead to some help, be it with donations of books, materials, or funding. This time, though, the elevator speech is aimed more at the folks involved in the decision process: an alderman, mayor, local government staff members – you get the drift.
I decided to address the 30 million word gap in my speech. That’s the difference in the number of words that children from lower-income families are exposed to, versus children from high-income families. This isn’t over the stretch of a lifetime, either. This isn’t even before Kindergarten. This is by AGE 3. Thirty million words. This is why reading to your kids, singing with your kids, TALKING to your kids, is crucial. Don’t know what to sing? Hell, I started singing ’80s ballads to my eldest when I ran blank on lullabies and nursery rhymes. Sing anything. Talk lovingly. Play. It matters.
So here’s my little elevator speech: “Hi there! I’m Rosemary, and I’m one of the children’s librarians at Queens Library. My colleagues and I are working toward closing that 30 million word gap by providing a chance for babies, toddlers, and their caregivers to sing, talk, play, and listen to stories together. Want to visit one of my storytimes?”
I’m hoping that the mention of a 30 million word gap will get whoever I’m speaking with to want to hear more. If I’ve only got 10 seconds, I want that in the other person’s head, so they can look it up, learn, and act.
Go read to your kids! Read to the neighbor’s kids! Just read!