Helping Our Children Avoid The 30-Million-Word Gap
Helping Our Children Avoid The 30-Million-Word Gap

Helping Our Children Avoid The 30-Million-Word Gap

It’s as simple as A-B-C. Started early!

Our family began helping to prepare our latest grandchild for high school graduation when he was an infant.


By reading aloud to him!



“During the critical period of brain development (between birth & age 4) a crucial variable is the richness of language environment in which the child grows.” 1

“By the time children are four years old, a huge language gap (a 30 million word gap) has already opened up between children with the most exposure to rich language and those with the least.” 2

“..the more words that are in a child’s language world, the more they will learn, and the stronger their language skills are when they reach kindergarten, the more prepared they are to be able to read, and the better they read, the more likely they will graduate for high school.” 3

“Experts tell us that children need to hear a thousand stories read aloud before they begin to read for themselves. A thousand!” 4

“The aim should be to make reading seem as fabulous as it is for most of us: fun, hilarious, thrilling, useful, interesting, essential, and desirable.” 5

“Those who do not develop the pleasure reading habit don’t have a chance – they will have a very difficult time reading and writing at a level high enough to deal with the demands of today’s world.” 6

It all comes down to how well the brain is nourished with words. 7

“In a large proportion of cases, people who grow up to be enthusiastic and powerful readers come from families where the bedtime story is a crucial part of the nightly ritual of getting ready for bed and where parents themselves read for pleasure and have books and magazines in the house.” 8


Our youngest grandchild just turned two years old. Everyone in our family has read to him, including the babysitter, and so he has heard stories nearly every day of his young life. Early on he learned how to open a book, began turning pages and then looking through books by himself.

We read with expression, sing, act out scenes, and make noises of animals and trucks and whatever else might be flying or crawling or lurking about in a story.

A few weeks before his second birthday he read his first word. He recognized the word written on a key chain in a book illustration. For many children it is the first word they say. For him it was the first word he both said and read. Can you guess what it is? It sure made his mother happy!

A few days after his second birthday he became keenly interested a heavily illustrated chapter book (after all, there was a baby dragon in it) - and so we have worked The Kingdom of Wrenly series into the reading rotation.

Books are now an embedded part of his life. At Christmas, books as gifts are actually opened and worthy of engagement! He relates reading to having fun and to spending intimate and pleasurable time with his parents and grandparents and baby sitter and aunt and uncles.

It’s as simple as A-B-C. Started early.

Question(s): How old were your children when you began reading to them? What kinds of things do you do to make reading a book with your child or grandchild fun?






We have approximately 700 books in the children’s library in our home.

But: “Remember those 1000 stories that a child needs to hear before going to school?

Many of those stories will come from the public library.” 9

1-9: Reading Still Matters: What the Research Reveals about Reading, Libraries and Community Catherine Sheldric Ross, Lynne (E.F.) McKechnie, and Paulette M. Rothbauer – Libraries Unlimited, An Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LCC, © 2018 pp. 7-11

The goal of the book Reading Still Matters is to “provide a map to the research findings, organized according to themes that are central to people interested in the intersection of reading, readers and libraries.” from the Preface, viii.


Dr. Pamela High, author of a report supporting new guidelines for pediatricians that parents be informed about the benefits of reading in office check-ups, in an interview on the PBS NewsHour (2014) quoted in RTM pp.


Mem Fox 2001. Reading Magic : Reading Aloud to our Children Will change Their Lives Forever. Sand Diego, Cas: Harcourt, Inc. quoted in RSM, page 8

Stephen Krashen, 2004. The Power of Reading. Insights from the Research, 2nd ed. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited quoted in RSM, page 9







© 2018 Adirondack Kid Press, Ltd.

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