According to a new collaborative study by the Ohio State University and the Columbus Metropolitan Library, young children whose parents read to them every day start kindergarten having heard hundreds of thousands more words than their peers who are seldom read to. This so-called "one million word gap" may be key in explaining the differences in preschoolers' vocabulary and reading skills development.

Even kids who are read only one simple book a day will have heard, by age 5, almost 300,000 more words than kids who haven't had the chance to regularly read with a caring parent or caregiver. Jessica Logan, lead author of the study and assistant professor at The Ohio State University said that the idea for this project came from one of her previous researches, which found that about one out of four kids was never read to, while one out of four was rarely read to (on average once or twice weekly).

The scientists identified the 100 most circulated books for both board books (targeting babies and toddlers) and picture books (targeting preschoolers). The words that kids discover in books can be much more complex than the words they hear when just talking with their parents and caregivers in their usual communication. For example, a children's book may be about polar bears in Antartica, implying some words and concepts that are very unlikely to come up in everyday conversation.

"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," said Logan.

Picture: Interesting Story, by Laura Muntz Lyall (Wikipedia, w/Effects)