Young children’s vocabularies benefit from being read to

Published 11:57 am Wednesday, September 6, 2023

A recent study from researchers at The Ohio State University found that the disparity between the number of words young children who are frequently read to have heard compared to those who have not been read to is significant. The study first appeared online in the Journal of Development and Behavioral Pediatrics and found that young children whose parents read them five books a day entered kindergarten having heard roughly 1.48 million words. By comparison, children whose parents never read to them had heard just over 4,600 words by the time they entered kindergarten. Even children who are read to daily hear significantly fewer words than children whose parents read them five books a day. Such children hear just under 300,000 words prior to entering kindergarten.

Exposure to a larger vocabulary is not the only benefit kids reap from being read to. Reach Out and Read, a national nonprofit that champions the positive effects of reading daily and engaging in additional language-rich activities with young children, reports that language-based interactions help children develop communication skills, patience, empathy, and literacy. Reading to young children also enhances their understanding of the world by transporting them to places and times they have never experienced.

One study also noted the effects that reading to young children can have on the relationship between parent and child. That study, authored by researchers at the University of Wollongong in Australia and Boston University and published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, found that reading to young children supports a strong relationship between parent and child.