Toddlers Who Are Read Five Books A Day Have A One Million-Word Advantage, Study Reveals

Toddlers Who Are Read Five Books A Day Have A One Million-Word Advantage, Study Reveals

The importance of reading to your children should never be understated. Because while it may be the case that parents are often on a very tight schedule these days, reading just a few short tales to your little ones could give them a staggering one-million-word advantage in life, a new study has shown.

Children who are read five books a day will start kindergarten with the advantage of having heard 1.4 million more words than those of their peers who haven't been so fortunate to have that opportunity.

These eye-opening findings were the result of a study conducted by Ohio State University, and the researchers who headed it claim that this explains why there are such notable gaps in the vocabulary and reading abilities of Kindergarten children.

And while the study emphasised that being read a total of five books a day would give the kids that coveted million-word advantage, even being read as little as one book per day would expose them to 290,000 more words than they would have heard had they not been read to by their parents at all.

"Kids who hear more vocabulary words are going to be better prepared to see those words in print when they enter school," explains Jessica Logan, from Ohio State’s Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy. "They are likely to pick up reading skills more quickly and easily."

This particular study was inspired by a previous one led by Logan and her fellow early childhood researchers, where they found that about a quarter of children, based on the sample, had never been read to and another quarter were only read to on a non-regular basis (once or twice a week).

"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.

Credit: Pexels / Lina Kivaka

Following these findings, the team got to work on the 'one million word' study.

Logan and her colleagues started off by devising a random list of 30 books geared at toddlers and preschoolers. They then found that on average board books contain 140 words and picture books have about 228 words.

Based on these calculations, the team was able to come up with various estimates as to the numbers of words a child would hear from the day they were born to the day they turned five years of age.

Here are their findings:

  • The child was never read to: 4,662 words
  • They are read to once or twice a week: 63,570 words
  • They are read to three to five times a week: 169,520 words
  • They are read to on a daily basis: 296,660 words
  • They are read five books each day: 1,483,300 words 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 bottom line is you really should be reading to your infants and toddlers on a daily basis - even if only for five minutes. Just five minutes could make all the difference in their development.