Let’s eliminate “the million word gap” by reading to children

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Patricia Morris Clark, chosen as Maine Mother of the Year for 2022, is Early Childhood Studies director and lecturer in the Education and Mental Health and Human Services programs at the University of Maine at Augusta. She taught preschool and elementary grades for 17 years.

Eliminating “the million word gap” with children entering kindergarten should be a goal for all. In order to provide equal footing for all kindergartners entering school, we need to eliminate this gap between kindergartners whose parents have read to them and those who have not.

According to a recent Ohio University study, young children whose parents read at least five board or picture books to them a day until they enter kindergarten introduce hundreds of thousands of words to their children by age five. These children enter kindergarten having heard an estimated 1.4 million more words than children who were rarely or never read to.

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