Applaud Support for Literacy in Impoverished Communities


Target: Gail Agronick, PhD., Director of Providence Talks

Goal: Support this initiative aimed at bringing up literacy among young children from poor families

Close to a quarter of children in the United States live in poverty. One consequence of this disparity is a severe word gap starting at an early age. By the time a child growing up in a low-income home turns four, he or she will have heard thirty million fewer words than a child from a more affluent background.

Providence Talks seeks to help parents and relatives caring for younger children boost their children’s knowledge of words from an early age. Free, voluntary, and confidential, this early intervention program represents the first municipal attempt to close the thirty million word gap and prepare children to enter kindergarten ready to succeed.

Such an initiative shows potential to make a wide impact in Providence, where above eighty five percent of children qualify for federally subsidized lunches and only one of three entering kindergarteners reads at the appropriate literacy benchmark. Providence Talks employs “word pedometers,” recording devices children can wear to later give parents and caregivers an account of conversations had with the children and number of words used.  Receiving support from a coach during bi-weekly visits, families also learn how to access resources for outside learning like read-aloud programs at local libraries or special events at local children’s museums.

Simply increasing access information does incalculable good for parents and caregivers, many of whom, especially those who are low-income, may not be fully aware of how communicating verbally with their children can stimulate their children’s brain development.

By signing the petition below, you can thank the team behind Providence Talks for their innovative efforts to empower parents and caregivers and to prepare all children, regardless of socioeconomic background, for their education.


Dear Dr. Agronick,

I am writing to thank you for your groundbreaking efforts to eliminate the word gap between young children from low-income backgrounds and those from affluent ones. You are doing underprivileged families and caregivers an amazing service by providing them with the resources and support they need to help their children develop literacy.

As the first municipal-level initiative to tackle the thirty million word gap, your program is leading the way in preparing all children, regardless of socioeconomic background, for their education. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors, and I hope that your work may serve as an example for communities nation-wide


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: John Mick via Wikimedia Commons

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