Numerous studies assert that children in families with incomes below the poverty line are less likely to be read to every day than are children in families with incomes at or above poverty. Due to a combination of factors related to income disparity, by the time children are 5 years old, the ones in poorer households will have heard up to 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers.
This doesn’t just bode poorly for school achievement – there is actually a biological impact on the brain development of children who grow up below the poverty line. A study published online in JAMA Pediatrics stated that low-income children lag behind more affluent children in standardized scores, with as much as 20% in the achievement gap explained by development lags in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.
Science has proven unequivocally that reading activates the parts of the brains that help with mental imagery and understanding narrative – these are the areas that are key to the development of language and literacy. You can learn more HERE.
This is why the work Children First does is so crucial. Thanks to our teachers and volunteers like Ruth Barker, pictured here reading to children during Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! we are working to close the gap. Reading early, and reading often, is important to ensuring our children have every opportunity for career and life success. We are grateful to volunteers like Ruth for being a crucial part of our early literacy efforts!
PHOTO ID: Ruth Barker, a volunteer reader at Children First, reads ‘I Don’t Want to be a Frog’ in a 3-4-year-old classroom