According to this article on Essential Kids, children who are read five books a day before heading to school have heard more than a million words than those who aren’t read to regularly. That’s why some kids have such large vocabularies and others don’t.
This really emphasises the importance of children’s books in a child’s life although I remember as a child I would read almost anything. I loved my children’s story books, of course, but I just read things for the sake of reading. My parents regularly had the newspaper delivered – that was back when the newspaper was physically delivered and not searched for on a computer screen – so I would read bits of the newspaper and on Sundays, definitely the “Kids’ Page” section with the cartoons and comics. I also voraciously read junk mail. I could read a pamphlet for plumbing services just because it was there. I just liked seeing those words on the printed page.
Later some of my favourite books were not only fairytales and “what my mother grew up with” which was old-fashioned even then, like Milly-Molly-Mandy and Mrs Pepperpot books, but also children’s encyclopedias. I loved reading about dinosaurs or big mountains and famous explorers. I liked to feel important words like “chlorophyll” and “metamorphosis” roll off my tongue.
Not only did I probably hear a million words but I loved to say them and report back to everyone what I’d read and correct them which is probably really really annoying for adults. However, if your child can remember which dinosaurs ate only plants (herbivores!) better than you can, you are either doing the right thing with exposing them to lots of books or letting them watch too much Jurassic park.
I am pretty sure not only do parents who read at least five books a day to their kids, have kids who’ve heard a million words more than those who haven’t had that opportunity, but the parents have heard millions of words more than the non-bookish parent too … millions of words from those kids!