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Get to Thirty Million Words

Posted: November 7, 2018

By: Katy Almendinger, Early Literacy Librarian

Do you find the human brain fascinating?
Are you a parent, grandparent, or caregiver?
Are you an educator or are you interested in education?
Are you a speech therapist?
Do you love the power of language?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to read Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain by Dr. Dana Suskind, and come listen to her presentation on Tuesday, November 13.

I originally picked up Thirty Million Words because I wanted to learn the “how and why” behind something that I already knew. Talking to your child is the most important thing you can do to support their future success, especially for young children ages 0 to 3. This is because at this point in life, the brain has the most neuroplasticity.

Thirty Million Words focuses on research that indicates that some children hear 30 million fewer words by their fourth birthday than other children. Let’s pause for a moment and let that number soak in: 30 million (non-unique) words. This gap has a significant, lasting impact on a child’s future. To help close the gap, Dr. Suskind has developed The Thirty Million Words Initiative.

If you are not already convinced that you need to read Thirty Million Words, here are a few powerful quotes.

  • An infant’s brain, at the height of neuroplasticity, can distinguish the sound of every language, from the German umlaut to the Chinese pinyin to the glottal, slightly implosive consonants of the Masai, and is ready to learn the language a sound belongs to, or even several languages with very different sounds.
  • It [a baby’s brain] does not learn language passively, but only in an environment of social responsiveness and social interaction.
  • The brain, unlike almost all other organs, is unfinished at birth. The heart, the kidneys, and lungs function from day one as they will for their entire lives. But the brain is almost entirely dependent on what it encounters on tis ride to full development.
  • Optimal caretaker language, in the very early years of a child’s life, is geared at helping a child toward independence.
  • We have to make the importance of the early language environment part of the American vernacular. Every parent, in fact, every person, should understand it.

Join us on Tuesday, November 13, from 7-8:30 pm to hear Dr. Suskind explain how adults can “tune in, talk more, and take turns” to set the stage for optimum brain development. There will be a Q&A and book signing after Dr. Suskind’s presentation. Prairie Path Books will have copies of Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain available for purchase. Educators will receive one (1) free CPDU credit for attending this program. Reserve your spot.

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