At the kickoff of the 20th anniversary ESSENCE Music Festival in New Orleans on Thursday, the magazine announced a new partnership with the Clinton Foundation aimed at getting more African-American moms talking, singing, and reading to their kids starting at birth.
By the time low-income kids reach age four, they know 30 million fewer words than their wealthy counterparts, according to research from Stanford University. For African-American children, who are three times as likely to be poor as White children, the stakes are much higher. When kids start off so far behind, the likelihood of them catching up academically is slim.
In an effort to reverse the trend of low achievement among Black children, ESSENCE, along with the Clinton Foundation and Next Generation’s Too Small To Fail initiative, are ramping up editorial content for moms and families. “Early learning and family support have long been central to the ESSENCE brand, and we see no better role for our publication than to empower our readers with the information they need to make good parenting decisions,” remarked editor-in-chief Vanessa K. Bush.
Christy Valentine, a New Orleans-based pediatrician who was present at the announcement, said, “Outside of loving your child, you can give them the gift of reading.” Valentine is an ambassador for the Artemis Medical Society, an organization of female physicians of color, and says it’s crucial for African-American patients to read to their kids as early as pregnancy.
“I tell my patients all the time,” Valentine said, “if you get your kids’ reading down, they’ll always be ahead of the game.”
Be on the look out for more educational content across ESSENCE platforms.