Sometimes, we feel like all we do all day long is read books to our kids. How many books can we go through while our littles sit attentively? Science says you should aim for at least five, as according to a new study conducted by Ohio State University, kids who are read five books a day before kindergarten will be exposed to nearly 1.4 million more words than compared to their peers who are not read to in that way.
Related: How Reading Aloud Benefits The Whole Family
Even reading one book a day to your child (hello, bedtime story) will give your child exposure to nearly 300,000 more words than their peers who are not read to. The researchers called this the 'million-word gap' and say that it's a critical part of the explanation behind differences in vocabulary and reading development in children.
Jessica Logan is a member of Ohio State's Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy. She says that kids who hear more vocabulary words will be prepared more to see and accept those words in print when they encounter them in school. This aids them in picking up reading skills with respect to both ease and speed.
Logan says that in a previous study, she and her colleagues learned that many parents said they never or seldom read to their kids. She wanted to see what difference that could make in the lives of their children and their children's education.
The researchers randomly chose 30 books from the 100 most circulated books and determined that board books averaged about 140 words a book while picture books averaged about 228. Based on those averages, they theorized the following numbers:
Kids never read to by the time they were five heard 4,662 words.
Kids who were read to once or twice a week by the time they were five heard 63,570 words.
Kids who were read to three to five times a week by the time they were five heard 169,520 words.
Kids who were read to daily heard 296, 660 words and kids who were read five books a day by the time they were five? They heard 1,483,300 words by kindergarten!
Logan says the gap between those kids never read to and raised in literacy-rich environments is significant and striking.
Related: Study: Reading Books With Dad Improves His Parenting Skills
And while researchers understand that not every parent can hit up five books a day for their child, they stress that trying to squeeze them in whenever they can, including with caregivers or in library programs and such can be instrumental in not just learning new words and acquiring reading skills more easily, but in bonding and spending time together as well.
So read. A lot. To your kids. Every chance you get. It's good for both of you.