The “Million-Word Gap

According to several researchers, children who are read five picture books a week from birth to 5 years old have an expanded vocabulary. They also develop a significant understanding of words and concepts compared to children who are never read to during these formative years.

“Based on these calculations, here’s how many words kids would have heard by the time they turn 5 years old.

  • Never read to, 4,662 words;
  • 1-2 times per week, 63,570 words;
  • 3-5 times per week, 169,520 words;
  • read pages daily, 296,660 words; and
  • read five books daily, 1,483,300 words.

This ‘Million-Word Gap’ could be one key in explaining differences in vocabulary and reading development, said Jessica Logan, lead author of the study and assistant professor of educational studies at The Ohio State University.” While there has been controversy about the numbers, there’s no doubt encouraging parents to read very early on, and often to a child, is the right path to increase that child’s language skills, understanding, and ingrain a love for reading and learning. Some researchers have claimed this gap is over 5 million words during these same formative years.

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