Kids Get A 'Million Word' Advantage If Their Parents Read To Them Daily

Kids Get A 'Million Word' Advantage If Their Parents Read To Them Daily

The study reveals the advantage of reading every day to your kids and how it makes them stand out of the crowd amongst those who haven't been read to by their parents before Kindergarten!

A child's mind is like an empty notebook, whatever they see, hear, and interact with, they register it in their mind. There is a reason why they easily catch those swear words you use, unknowingly in front of them. But, did you know, reading to them, even before they have started going to kindergarten is an invaluable aspect to their knowledge? A study confirms something extremely interesting about the act of reading to children. 

Those parents who read five books a day to their children have heard about 1.4 million more words at the time they enter kindergarten, as compared to those kids who were never read to. A study conducted by Ohio State University shows that the 'million-word gap' is a key component in explaining vocabulary and reading development differences.  Even those kids who are read only one book a day will hear around 290,000 more words by age 5, than those who are not read regularly by a parent or a babysitter. 



“Kids who hear more vocabulary words are going to be better prepared to see those words in print when they enter school,” said Jessica Logan, a member of Ohio State’s Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy. “They are likely to pick up reading skills more quickly and easily.” The idea for this research came from a former study where Logan and her colleagues found that one-fourth of children in a national sample were never read to, and another fourth were seldom read to, once or twice weekly. 

“The fact that we had so many parents who said they never or seldom read to their kids was pretty shocking to us. We wanted to figure out what that might mean for their kids,” Logan said. The study involved picking 30 books from a list of the 100 most circulated books for both boards books which target infants and toddlers and picture books who are made for preschoolers. What they found was, board books contained an average of 140 words whereas picture books contained 228. 



From the deduced information, the researchers were able to calculate the number of words a child would hear from birth through their fifth birthday at different levels of reading each type of book. Based on these calculations, here’s how many words kids would have heard by the time they were 5 years old:

Never read to: 662 words
Read to once or twice per week: 63,570 words;
Read to three to five times per week: 169,520 words
Read to daily: 296,660 words
Five books a day: 1,483,300 words

“The word gap of more than 1 million words between children raised in a literacy-rich environment and those who were never read to is striking,” Logan said. The difference that reading to your child would make is remarkable, and the fact that it only takes five minutes to read a 140-words book, parents will be able to help their children in a big way. The fact that parents are busy most of the time, taking out time for five minutes just to read to a toddler should also be on their priority list. 



Researchers also emphasized on the fact that the vocabulary gap studied here is entirely different from a conversational word gap.  “This isn’t about everyday communication,” she says. “The words kids hear in books are going to be much more complex, difficult words than they hear just talking to their parents and others in the home.” Children's book has a plethora of things, from imaginary friends to fairies to animals all over the world, these are the topics and subjects that do not come while daily conversation.



Reading to your kids is so important. Beyond learning new words, it’s a really great time to bond with each other, be silly together, and learn something new. Libraries are a godsend for parents everywhere, too. Exposure to books and new vocabulary is something all families can benefit from, kids most of all."The words kids hear from books may have special importance in learning to read,” Logan says.

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