Urban Libraries Council Recognizes San Mateo County Libraries for Library Innovation

Mother reading to her child. Source: Becky Ruppel Photography
Mother reading to her child.
Source: Becky Ruppel Photography

We're proud to share that the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) named us as one of 10 Top Innovators in the country in the category of Learning: Birth through Teens. A panel of expert judges selected our Talk Read Sing program from nearly 300 submissions in 10 categories that demonstrate the value and impact of public library service.

We partnered with the LENA Research Foundation to develop Talk Read Sing, a research-based intervention targeted at parents of children under three to help bridge the word gap, ensure a language rich environment at home, and support children’s success in school and life in the long-term. A baby’s brain grows to more than 80 percent of its adult size in the first three years. Parents’ talking habits are powerful influencers during this crucial developmental period, and research has shown that lower-income children hear roughly 30 million fewer words than more affluent children by the time they turn three. The word gap is the beginning of the achievement gap, which negatively impacts children’s readiness for kindergarten.

Talk Read Sing uses LENA's Smarter Happier Baby Curriculum in English and Spanish combined with “talk pedometer” technology to help families track their progress in the number of adult words spoken, conversational turns taken, and electronic noise in the home. The program focuses on serving low-income families, as well as partnering with the San Mateo County Housing Authority and Institute for Human and Social Development to serve their clients. Since May 2015, Talk Read Sing has reached 95 families with 74 percent of families showing gains in adult words spoken to the child, and 60% of families showing gains in conversational turns.

"It’s well known that increasing conversations between parents and young children builds babies’ brains, improves their social and emotional well being, and makes them more prepared for school and for life. The Talk Read Sing program perfectly fits our mission to provide opportunities for growth and enrichment in the communities we serve,"

- Anne-Marie Despain, Director of San Mateo County Libraries.

The list of 2016 ULC Innovations can be viewed at the Urban Libraries Council site.