USA: not reading to children creates ‘million word gap’

05 June 2019

A US study has suggested young children whose parents read them five books a day enter nursery having heard about 1.4 million more words than their peers who were never read to.

The researchers worked with the Columbus Metropolitan Library, which identified the 100 most-circulated books for infants and toddlers, and those for preschoolers. They randomly selected 30 books from both lists and calculated the average number of words in a book for each age range.

The study, in the online Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, suggests that by the time they were five, children who were never read to had heard 4662 words while those read to once or twice a week had heard 63,570 words. For children reading with parents three to five times weekly, the figure was 169,520, rising to 296,660 for daily reading, and 1,483,300 for children whose parents read them five books a day.


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