BOSTON (CBS) – They call it the “million-word gap.” That’s the number of words a young child who has been read to frequently will have heard by the time they enter kindergarten compared to a child who has never been read to.

Researchers at Ohio State University examined 30 of the most popular young children’s books, both board books and picture books, and counted how many words were in each book.

They estimated that children who were read five books a day starting at birth were exposed to 1.4 million more words by the time they were 5 years old than children who were never read to. And they say that number may be conservative because when adults read to kids, they often provide additional conversation about what they’re reading and what they’re seeing.

The researchers say this reading gap may have a profound impact on a child’s future literacy and vocabulary.

Previous surveys have suggested that half of children are either never read to or only read to once or twice a week.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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