Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing Campaigns


Too Small to Fail’s local public awareness and action campaign, “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing,” launched in the flagship cities of Oakland, CA and Tulsa, OK in 2014. Today, there are 24 official Talking is Teaching communities in cities around the U.S. Through trusted messengers such as librarians, pediatricians and faith leaders; high-quality materials and tools; and messages in community spaces, including bus shelters, playgrounds, and grocery stores, communities across the country are working to boost early brain and language development to prepare their children for kindergarten and beyond. Learn more about our local Talking is Teaching campaigns below.

Oakland, CA 

In Oakland, Too Small to Fail is working with UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland and First 5 Alameda to implement the Talking is Teaching campaign through health centers, home visiting and other places where families spend time. In partnership with BCHO, Too Small to Fail developed a model for how children’s hospitals can address the word gap as a public health issue. At the hospital’s primary care clinic, pediatricians deliver messages about early brain development, early literacy and early math at well-child visits, along with tote bags full of tools for parents to take home. Kaiser Permanente also engaged in a strategy at four medical centers, where pediatricians delivered messages and materials to families. In addition, the campaign is partnering with First 5 Alameda to distribute messages and materials first through pediatricians at community clinics and now through home visitors. 

Tulsa, OK 

In Tulsa, Too Small to Fail is working with the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) to implement the Talking is Teaching campaign in churches, hospitals, grocery stores, and other places where families spend time. Through strong partnerships with Tulsa pastors and the faith-based community, GKFF is delivering tools and messages to families during literacy events at churches and as part of baby dedication ceremonies. Working with healthcare partners, the campaign is delivering messages and tools to every baby born in Tulsa, as well as through ten Reach Out and Reach pediatric clinics. Campaign signage is posted in all city buses, on billboards, and in two Tulsa grocery store chains to prompt parent-child conversations while families wait for the bus or shop for groceries.

Chippewa Valley, WI

Too Small to Fail is partnering with United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley on a campaign to support families in the Eau Claire and Chippewa counties in Western Wisconsin. The Chippewa Valley Talking is Teaching campaign will be implemented in collaboration with partners from the Early Literacy Coalition of the Greater Chippewa Valley, including the local School District, library, Children’s Museum, Child Care Resource & Referral, Child Care Quality Rating & Improvement System, Public Health, Family Literacy and Early/Head Start. All partners will regularly deliver messages about early literacy and brain development through social media platforms. Some of the partners will also directly provide high-quality tools and resources to families. Their State Department of Children and Families also made an active commitment to support local families with young children by donating 4000 books to be distributed. The campaign will officially launch on August 1, 2018 with a focus on food sources, such as grocery stores, local rural food sources (convenience stores), farmer’s markets and food pantries, as a place for messaging the role that parents and caregivers play in their child's early literacy and brain development. Learn more here.

Detroit, MI

The Detroit/Wayne County Talking is Teaching Community Campaign has been built to increase everyone’s knowledge about the importance of talking and interacting with young children beginning at birth. Reinforcing messaging, skill building, esteeming adults for what they are already doing and working together to help each of us do more are the critical elements of this Campaign. Our unique one minute, five minute, ten minute and thirty minute messages for families and for the community at large are delivered through Trusted Messengers in Community Spaces such as laundromats, libraries, WIC Offices, places of worship, early childhood education sites, colleges and universities, public housing, health providers, etc.

Fresno County, CA

In February 2015, Flower Unified School District and the Fresno County Superintendent launched a Talking is Teaching campaign. Initially, the campaign focused on billboards, bus ads, paid media, and posters. In 2017, the campaign shifted to focus on reaching families through trusted messengers, including WIC clinics, pediatric clinics, the children's hospital, FQHCs, and Help Me Grow.

Little Rock, AR 

Launched in November 2016 and powered by The Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Arkansas's Talking is Teaching campaign is designed to empower the parents and caregivers of children ages 0 to 5 in central and southwest Little Rock to talk, read, sing, and play with their children from birth. The campaign is partnering with the Arkansas Department of Health WIC, Arkansas Home Visiting Network, Little Rock School District, and Ready Rosie to distribute tools and resources to parents and caregivers through preschool teachers, home visitors, and WIC nutritionists. The campaign also includes a media strategy with Talking is Teaching messaging on billboards and buses, as well as a public service announcement developed by the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN).

Livingston County, MI

Launched in the fall of 2018 and supported by The Community Foundation for Livingston County and the Livingston Educational Service Agency (LESA). The campaign is designed to reinforce the overarching goal that every child in Livingston County be proficient in literacy skills and dispositions by age eight. The campaign is built on the belief that in order to reach our goal, efforts needed to support parents and families of young children must begin at birth and involve multiple stakeholders in the community. The first year is focused on partnering with faith-based organizations, local school districts, laundromats, local libraries, and community service organizations. These partnerships will enable them to share Talking Is Teaching messaging, train 200 Trusted Messengers and develop creative ways to work on achieving their targeted goal. The following year, they will expand the campaign to include pediatricians, dentists, local hospitals and more.

Los Angeles, CA 

Too Small to Fail partnered with First 5 LA to bring the national “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” campaign to the families of Los Angeles County through First 5 LA’s Welcome Baby program, a family support and parent coaching initiative for new and expecting parents. As part of the Welcome Baby program, new parents and caregivers are receiving high-quality Talking is Teaching materials during home visits — including a CD, Sesame Street Family Resource guide and receiving blanket — with prompts that encourage parents to talk, read, and sing with their children every day starting at birth. These materials supplement the existing programming provided by parent coaches through pregnancy and the first nine months of their baby’s life. Building on its multiyear national partnership with Univision called “Pequeños y Valiosos” (Small and Valuable), Too Small to Fail also worked with Univision’s affiliate television and radio stations in Los Angeles to provide in-depth news and information to its audience on early education and parenting.

Miami, FL 

In Miami, Too Small to Fail is partnering with the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of Miami-Dade and Monroe and Univision Miami on a citywide campaign with an emphasis on reaching families of young dual language learners (DLL). Launched in June 2016, Too Small to Fail and the ELC are working with local partners at Jackson Health System clinics, Holtz Children’s Hospital, and Early Head Start to distribute tote bags full of high-quality materials and messages to 8,000 families in Miami. The Miami-Dade County Library System and Help Me Grow are also participating by displaying posters and integrating messages into their existing programming and services. Building on its multi-year national partnership with Univision, Too Small to Fail also worked with Univision’s affiliate television and radio stations in South Florida to provide in-depth news and information to its audience on early education and parenting through television programming and community events.

Minneapolis, MN 

Launched in June 2016, the Minneapolis Talking is Teaching campaign was a collaboration between the City of Minneapolis and many trusted partners, including early childhood centers and family serving organizations reaching children and families across the city, such as Reach Out and Read Minnesota, which works with pediatricians and clinics to promote early literacy in clinic settings; Way to Grow, which provides home- and center-based early childhood education as well as family support and education in North Minneapolis; Hennepin County Library, which connects families and children across the city to early literacy activities; and Children's Hospital of Minnesota. Some partners distributed Talking is Teaching materials directly to families. Other partners made active commitments to support young children and parents by donating books, holding employee book drives, hosting parent engagement sessions, and helping to share information through social media.

New Orleans, LA

In New Orleans, Too Small to Fail is working with Children's Hospital of New Orleans and its parenting center on a city-wide Talking is Teaching campaign. During stage one, doctors and nurses will distribute messages and toolkits at the hospital and affiliated clinics throughout the city during well-child visits and birthing center. There will also be a paid media component through transit ads across the city. In later phases, the campaign will expand to home visiting through Healthy Start, local businesses and government programs.

Napa, CA

Launched in June 2016 and led by First 5 Napa County, the Napa Talking is Teaching campaign is partnering with Child Start, Community Resources for Children, Cope Family Center, Napa County Office of Education, Napa Emergency Women’s Services, Napa Valley Community Housing, Napa Valley Early Learning Initiative, Parent University, ParentsCan, Queen of the Valley Medical Center, family resource centers, child care providers, pediatricians and libraries throughout the valley, as well as local businesses and community leaders, to share information with parents and caregivers about the critical role they play in their children’s early brain development. These community partners are distributing free Talking is Teaching materials directly to families, encouraging parents to talk, read and sing with their children. The campaign also aims to transform everyday places where families spend time together — such as supermarkets, playgrounds and laundromats — into language-rich environments, and is exploring opportunities to have posters and creative materials displayed in a variety of locations to encourage families to talk, read and sing while they engage in everyday activities.

Portland, ME

Building upon the success of a Talking is Teaching pilot in 2017, Starting Strong expanded their Talking is Teaching campaign in 2018 and engages trusted messengers from Early Head Start, Portland Public Health, Portland Public Library, Portland’s Family Shelter and several local child care facilities to distribute 500 kits to families of children 0-2. Many of these partners will also display posters and distribute other tools and prompts, such as books, flyers, and bookmarks.

The campaign also includes a marketing strategy with Talking is Teaching messaging in and on buses, a digital ad campaign, and media outreach. A public event is planned in April 2019 as part of the Week of the Young Child, which will feature a city bus with Talking is Teaching messaging, a read-in on the bus, and distribution of travel-themed kits and other resources. Learn more here.

Salt Lake County, UT

Launched in November 2015 and led by Salt Lake County with support from its Mayor, the Salt Lake County Talking is Teaching campaign brought together a diverse group of partners to distribute resources and messages to families about the importance of early brain and language development. Partners included the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum, Utah chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Utah State Library Division, Utah Education Network, Utah Health and Human Services and the United Way, Help Me Grow, HeadStart and the library system, among other organizations. Salt Lake County continues to promote the resources on their website.

San Francisco, CA

In partnership with Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, First 5 San Francisco, and the San Francisco Public Library system, Too Small to Fail launched a Talking is Teaching campaign in August of 2016. Through the primary care clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General, nearly 5,000 families, virtually all well-visits of children 0-5, are receiving a tote bag with tools and resources from pediatricians. An additional 4,500 families throughout San Francisco are receiving messages and tools through library programming, including the annual Tricycle Music Fest, early literacy workshops, and bookmobile activity.

Stanford, CA

In January 2018, Stanford Children's Hospital launched Talking is Teaching Stanford campaign with their Division of General Pediatrics. At the hospital's Federally Qualified Health Centers, pediatricians deliver messages about early brain and language development at well-child visits, along with early literacy toolkits for parents to take home. The campaign is also incorporated in the hospital's newborn nursery, where pediatricians deliver messages and materials to parents.

Syracuse, NY 

In Syracuse, Talk, Read, Sing Onondaga is a local "Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing" campaign led by The Early Childhood Alliance of Onondaga (ECA). The campaign is partnering with local pediatricians and home visitors to encourage parents to engage with their children in meaningful, language-rich activities like talking, reading and singing every day, and provide helpful tips and resources. The community can also see resources around the city on posters, billboards, bus stops and even online that provide parents with helpful tips for engaging with their child. Learn more here.

West Central Minnesota

Too Small to Fail is partnering with five counties in West Central Minnesota to implement a Talking is Teaching Campaign. Each county is working with a variety of community partners including the local school district, library, public health department, Head Start centers, and Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE). Talking is Teaching environmental prompts that encourage parents and caregivers to talk, read, and sing with their children, including 50+ posters and 13 playground panels, are being installed across the rural Minnesota community. Local community partners are also regularly distributing early brain development resources, such as books, CDs, and tip sheets, to families throughout the five-county region. Learn more here.