The city's first lady, Chirlane McCray, fanned out across the city Wednesday to try to get more parents to read, sing and talk to their babies. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed this report.
The city's first lady began the day in Brooklyn.
"Everything you do with your baby helps him or her grow," she said to a crowd.
Then she was on to Queens.
"No more monkies jumping on the bed!" she sang with a group of kids.
And finally, she was in Harlem.
"Jasmin, Jasmin. That's a nice name," she sang to one young New Yorker.
Chirlane McCray spoke, read and sang in three libraries as part of a city campaign called "Talk to Your Baby," an initiative she launched in April with Hillary Clinton.
"You are literally building your baby's brain," Clinton said on a visit in April.
This is, in many ways, an extension of the de Blasio administration's focus on universal pre-K, because by the time children even get to pre-K, there is already a big gap. Children from low income homes have heard about 30,000 fewer words than children from middle and upper income households.
"Just because you're going coo-coo and singing and, you know, silly songs and fun words that it is a very serious business, because the child's brain is beginning to form," McCray said.
McCray has emerged as an approachable advocate for this type of campaign. On Wednesday, Scholastic released a baby book edited by the First Lady that will be donated to 200,000 city children, and McCray spoke about how her immigrant parents could have benefited from this advice.
"My own parents did not understand the importance of reading to us when we were young. I did not start going to the library until I was in first grade and the teacher told my mother that, 'Look, you know, Chirlane is not on grade level,'" she said.
The city is spending $466,000 on "Talk to Your Baby," including public awareness advertisements in subways.
This campaign is also part of McCray's evolution as first lady. She initially seemed poised for a more political role, and even helped the mayor hire his top deputies at City Hall. She has, instead, become a powerfully placed advocate for issues she's personally connected to, like early childhood education and mental health reform.