February 18, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Sesame Workshop Launches Early Literacy Initiative

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, has partnered with the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) to launch a new early literacy initiative, Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day. The program was introduced today at the New York Public Library, at an event featuring Sesame Street characters Grover and Alan, with a speech by H. Melvin Ming, Sesame Workshop’s president and CEO.

According to Sesame Workshop, research shows that prior to starting school, children from high-income families benefit from 400 hours more literacy-related activities than children from low-income families, and by age four, a high-income child is exposed to 35 million more words than a low-income child.

In response to that wide gap in literacy rates, the goal of Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day is to provide a free bilingual, digital resource made up of tips, games, and activities designed to improve a child’s reading and writing capabilities from an early age. The program includes video segments, planning materials, a parent/caregiver guide, and a new mobile site.

“From the very beginning, Sesame Street has promoted the importance of early-childhood education. However, children from low-income families do not have access to the same educational opportunities as children from high-income families,” says Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop’s senior vice president for community and family engagement, in the organization’s announcement. “With support from IICF, we are excited to bring Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day to young children. [It] will provide families, parents, caregivers, and volunteers with materials that draw from everyday life, thus giving adults an easy way to implement literacy into their daily interactions with children.”

IICF, a nonprofit organization funded by the insurance industry, and Sesame Workshop both say they plan to promote Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day at events nationwide, and will be working to reach as many families and volunteers as possible through both local and national programming.

“The IICF and insurance industry are committed to improving early childhood literacy rates across America, but we know change will not happen overnight,” says Bill Ross, IICF’s chief executive officer, in the announcement. “This is why we felt it was so important to make a long-term, active, commitment to Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day, where we support and sponsor Sesame Workshop, but more importantly, engage the nationwide network of insurance professionals across the country to serve as advocates, stewards, and volunteers for this wonderful program.”

Karyn M. Peterson About Karyn M. Peterson

Karyn M. Peterson (kpeterson@mediasourceinc.com) is a former News Editor ofSLJ.

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  1. I think every effort to promote early literacy is awesome, and it is great that the IICF is being engaged as advocates, but I’m concerned about the digital divide. If this resource is intended for lower income families but only available in digital format, will that audience have access to the devices and technology required to view the content?