Have you heard of the Million Word Gap?
The million word gap addresses the disparity between children that are read to at a young age, and children that are not. In fact, a 2014 NAEYC article states that “Children’s vocabulary skills are linked to their economic backgrounds. By 3 years of age, there is a 30 million word gap between children from the wealthiest and poorest families. A recent study shows that the vocabulary gap is evident in toddlers. By 18 months, children in different socio-economic groups display dramatic differences in their vocabularies. By 2 years, the disparity in vocabulary development has grown significantly (Fernald, Marchman, & Weisleder 2013).” And you can watch a two-minute video of the study here. I also really like how the NAEYC article gives a list of tips and tricks for everyday life vocabulary introduction.
It’s important to note that this study mentioned is from 1992, and only involved 42 families. It is now believed that 30 million words is a stretch. However, I do still like the tips and tricks that the NAEYC article has, and they can apply to a variety of family situations. If you want to read more about the 30 million word study, here’s an NPR article that sums things up nicely.
It’s also important to note that incidental vocabulary can be learned in places besides books. Reading street signs, menus, narrating activities as well as events like grocery shopping will all assist in learning new words. Books aren’t the only way to learn, but they’re a great way to learn!
In order to help combat the gap, I’ve teamed up with a handful of others who are also concerned, to promote literacy services and free resources! In addition, here are 5 easy statements that can make a dent in the million word gap:
- I will try to find ways to expose the 0-5 year olds in my life to 5 books daily + will continue to read aloud to them even after they start school
- I will try to prioritize diverse + inclusive books
- I will try to incorporate interactive reading + I will do the voices + I will make it fun
- I will share my knowledge of free + accessible + inclusive literacy resources
- I will advocate for literacy + share my knowledge about the million word gap + offer potential ways to bridge it
“We Need Diverse Books™ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.”
- I hope you join me in helping to close the gap, and I’m thrilled to be able to share more information about the resource I’ve chosen to highlight: We Need Diverse Books.
They have an amazing Resources page, filled with specific lists for everyone involved with literacy and books.
“WNDB strives to create a world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of a book. To reach this goal, we’ve created programs to celebrate diverse books, to mentor diverse writers and illustrators, to support diverse publishing professionals, and to provide books to classrooms nationwide.”
I chose WNDB to highlight for the #readfivewithus campaign because they stand for so many of the same things that TTA stands for. Make sure to check out the post on Instagram, which also tags the humans I’m collaborating with and a complete list of the resources!