Penguin Young Readers, the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN), and Too Small to Fail (TSTF) commit to establish Baby Book Banks within diaper banks in the NDBNs network serving low-income communities throughout the United States. These Baby Book Banks will distribute age-appropriate books and early literacy resources to parents when they pick up diapers for their children. To launch this effort, Penguin is donating 100,000 age-appropriate board books to the NDBN and TSTF to be distributed through Baby Book Banks established within 20 NDBN-member diaper bank programs.
As part of this effort, the NDBN and TSTF will launch Talk, Read, Sing for Change, a new program designed to provide parents with books and resources to engage in language-rich interactions with their children starting at birth. The NDBN and TSTF will develop a Talk, Read, Sing for Change provider tip sheet to equip the 20 NDBN member organizations staff and volunteers with talking points and information for parents that will be distributed along with the books. The Talk, Read, Sing for Change initiative will also include online engagement and pledge forms, as well as tip sheets.
At the diaper banks, parents will be encouraged to take a pledge online to spend time talking, reading, and singing with their children every day. The online pledge form online form will request parents email addresses. Parents who commit to take this pledge will receive a colorful and engaging brochure created by TSTF in partnership with the NDBN which will be filled with information on ways parents can use everyday moments like diaper time to engage in talking, reading, and singing activities with their children. Four to six weeks after parents take the pledge and receive the books and brochure, NDBN will distribute a parent survey via email to assess the impact of the program, with the goal of a 15% return rate of all parents surveyed.
The commitment partners will collaborate with Huggies® Brand, a leading manufacturer of diapers and founding sponsor of the NDBN, to expand the reach of the Talk, Read, Sing for Change program through Huggies social media channels. Huggies will share early literacy resources provided by TSTF and encourage parents to pledge to talk, read, and sing with their children every day.
July 2016 Penguin provides the NDBN with a list of book titles that will be donated; TSTF and the NDBN begin writing the Talk, Read, Sing for Change parent brochure, pledge card, and parent survey sheet to share with diaper banks.
August 2016 The NDBN begins signing up diaper banks interested in starting a Baby Book Bank and launching the Talk, Read, Sing for Change program.
September 2016 The NDBN prints the parent brochure, and develops the online pledge and survey.
October 2016 The NDBN ships the parent brochures, and introduces the online pledge and surveys to diaper banks that are a part of the program.
November 2016 The NDBN coordinates shipment of books from Penguins warehouse to participating diaper banks. The NDBN, TSTF, and Huggies finalize and schedule online engagement.
December 2016 The NDBN and TSTF begin sharing information about the program and key messages via their respective social media channels and websites. Huggies also activates its social media support in early December. At this same time, participating diaper banks hand out books, brochures, and surveys during diaper distribution (the program ends December 31st). Families receiving the books are asked to take the online pledge throughout the month, with a goal of obtaining 5,000 commitments by the end of December.
January 2017 The NDBN issues the parent survey and analyzes the data.
February 2017 The NDBN shares survey results with commitment partners.
March 2017 and beyond While the initial CGI commitments of the book donations, distribution of key messages, and program evaluation will be completed by this point, the efforts to get parents to sign the pledge will be ongoing. Likewise, the establishment of the Baby Book Banks at the respective NDBN diaper banks is expected to continue and provide the foundation for the organizations to reach out locally and regionally to receive additional book donations on an ongoing basis.
According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 5.3 million children under the age of three live in poor and low-income families. Government assistance and/or low-income jobs are often insufficient to meet the basic needs of these families, particularly those with young children. When parents cannot afford diapers, hygiene products, or transportation, their lives are disrupted in many ways. One in three poor and low-income American families struggle with diaper needs, not having enough diapers for their baby. Diaper banks help bridge this gap by distributing free diapers to struggling families.
Meanwhile, almost 60 percent of American children start kindergarten unprepared, lagging behind their peers in critical language, math, and social-emotional skills. Research shows that simple, everyday interactions with young children like describing objects seen during a walk or bus ride, singing songs, or sharing stories can build their vocabularies, prepare them for school, and lay a strong foundation for lifelong learning. In fact, the first three years of life are the most critical for vocabulary development because the brain is best able to absorb language during this period. Early language development is also a strong predictor of future critical developmental milestones such as school readiness and reading at grade level by the end of third grade. Recent studies show that both the amount and quality of the communication between children and their parents and other caregivers are critical to building childrens language during the early years.
Additionally, research indicates that the most effective way to improve low-income childrens reading achievement levels is to increase their access to books. Yet there is a dearth of childrens books in low-income households. Indeed, studies show that in some low-income communities there is only one book for every three hundred children, while in middle-income neighborhoods, there are 13 books per child.
Therefore, there is a powerful opportunity to provide childrens books to families at the same time they are receiving diapers from diaper bank programs because families lacking money for basic needs have difficulty purchasing books for their infants and toddlers. This commitment aims to address the diaper need and literacy consequences of poverty and will expand the role that community diaper banks play in providing essential support to families in need.