Research has proven that children whose parents have read five books a day come into kindergarten hearing over one million more words.
According to Science Daily, this is known as the "One million word gap" and Jessica Logan, the assistant professor of educational studies at The Ohio State University who is leading a study on this very topic suggests that this could be a key in discovering differences in reading and vocabulary development in children.
"Kids who hear more vocabulary words are going to be better prepared to see those words in print when they enter school," says Logan.
While five books may sound like a lot to some parents, the research found that even one a day could make a difference. In fact, they found that children under these circumstances were still exposed to about 290,000 more words by five years old. Because of this, Logan suggests that children have an easier time learning how to read.
The study was pretty simple. The Columbus Metropolitan Library gave the researchers a list of the most used books for both infants and toddlers and picture books for preschoolers in their region. From there, they narrowed the list down 30 books and counted the number of words in each book. On average, they found books have about 140 words while picture books had 228. Then, they crunched the numbers to see how many different words a child would hear before the age of five based on a variety of circumstances.
The inspiration for this research came from a prior study Logan spearheaded. She found that one-fourth of children across the USA were only read to around once or twice a week. Sometimes less in some cases.
Aside from the obvious verbal and language skills developed from being read to, the activity provides a lot of benefits. To start, it helps to expand a child's imagination and it strengthens the bond between parent and child. Not only that, it keeps children away from the screen, which is an increasing issue.
It's become such an issue in fact, that the World Health Organization has suggested kids under the age of three get no screentime. Even then, three years and older should only be in front of a screen for an hour, but less is better.
Hopefully, with this news, more parents will opt to read to their kids and give them a bigger headstart in life.