From the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy:
1. The greatest amount of brain growth occurs between birth and age five. In fact, by age 3, roughly 85% of the brain’s core structure is formed. In contrast, the majority of our investments are made in the traditional education years of K-12, which begin at age five.“Lifetime Effects: The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study Through age 40.” Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 2005.
2. Cognitive processes develop rapidly in the first few years of life. At birth your baby’s brain is only 25 percent of its adult size. By age three your child’s brain will be 80 percent of its adult size. www.zerotothree.org/child-development/healthy-minds.html
3. The developing brain triples in the first year alone and is virtually fully formed by the time a child enters kindergarten. Eliot, L. (1999). What’s Going on in There? : How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life. Bantam Books.
4. Given the course of brain development, it is not surprising that young children who are exposed to certain early language and literacy experiences usually prove to be good readers later. Just as a child develops language skills long before being able to speak, the child also develops literacy skills long before being able to read. National Research Council. (1998). Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
5. The average child from a professional family hears 215,000 words per week; a child from a working class family hears 125,000 words per week; and a child from a family receiving welfare benefits hears 62,000 words per week. Hart, B. & Risley, T.R. (1995). Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.
6. Researchers found that when mother frequently spoke to their infants, their children learned almost 300 more words by age 2 than did their peers whose mothers rarely spoke to them. Huttenlocher et al., 1991. Early vocabulary growth: Relation to language input and gender. Developmental Psychology, 27, 236-248.
7. The most important aspect of parent talk is its amount. Parents who just talk as they go about their daily activities expose their children to 1000-2000 words every hour. Hart and Risley (1999) The social world of children learning to talk.
8. In the first three years, infants and toddlers begin acquiring the first of thousands of words they will use throughout their lives. Simultaneously, children are learning the rules of grammar as well as absorbing the social conventions that exist around communication in their community. Im, J., Osborn, C., Sánchez, S. and Thorp, E. (in press). Cradling Literacy: Building Teachers’ Skills to Nurture Early Language and Literacy Birth to Five. Washington, DC: ZERO TO THREE.
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16. The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school. National Commission on Reading, 1985
17. Having books in the home is twice as important as the father’s education level. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 2010
18. The only behavior measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home. The Literacy Crisis: False Claims, Real Solutions, 1998
19. An analysis of nearly 100,000 U.S. school children found that access to printed materials is the “critical variable affecting reading acquisition.” JMcQuillan, J. (1998). The Literacy Crisis: False Claims, Real Solutions.Heinemann.
20. The most successful way to improve the reading achievement of low-income children is to increase their access to print. Newman, Sanford, et all. “American’s Child Care Crisis: A Crime Prevention Tragedy”; Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2000.
21. Creating a steady stream of new, age-appropriate books has been shown to nearly triple interest in reading within months. Harris, Louis. An Assessment of the Impact of First Book’s Northeast Program. January 2003.
22. By the age of 2, children who are read to regularly display greater language comprehension, larger vocabularies, and higher cognitive skills than their peers. Raikes, H., Pan, B.A., Luze, G.J., Tamis-LeMonda, C.S.,Brooks-Gunn, J., Constantine,J., Tarullo, L.B., Raikes, H.A., Rodriguez, E. (2006). “Mother-child book reading in low-income families: Correlates and outcomes during the first three years of life.” Child Development, 77(4).
23. Children who are read to at least three times a week by a family member are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading compared to children who are read to less than 3 times a week. Denton, Kristen and Gerry West, Children’s Reading and Mathematics Achievement in Kindergarten and First Grade (PDF file), U.S. Department of Education, NCES, Washington, DC, 2002.
24. Children who live in print-rich environments and who are read to during the first years of life are much more likely to learn to read on schedule. Southern Early Childhood Association, “Making Books Part of a Healthy Childhood.”
25. Children with greater access to books and other print materials express more enjoyment of books, reading, and academics. Children’s Access to Print Material and Education Related Outcomes.
26. Children who are “well-read-to” (at least five times a week), when asked to tell a story, used more literary language than unread to children, and they used more sophisticated syntactic forms, longer phrases, and relative clauses. They were also better able to understand the oral and written language of others – an important foundation for the comprehension skills that will develop in the coming years. Wolf, M. (2007). Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. New York: Harper Perennial.
27. Children growing up in homes with at least twenty books get three years more schooling than children from bookless homes, independent of their parents’ education, occupation, and class. Evans, M. D., Kelley, J., Sikora, J., & Treiman, D. J. (2010). Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 28(2), 171-197.
28. Books contain many words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently in spoken language. Children’s books actually contain 50% more rare words than primetime television or even college students’ conversations. The Read-Aloud Handbook, by Jim Trelease.
29. The nurturing and one-on-one attention from parents during reading aloud encourages children to form a positive association with books and reading later in life. Reach Out and Read, Archives of Disease in Childhood, Reading Aloud to Children: The Evidence, 2008.
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32. In middle-income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children. Neuman, Susan B. and David K. Dickinson, ed. Handbook of Early Literacy Research, Volume 2. New York, NY: 2006, p. 31
Link to the rest at Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy