What Reading Does for the Mind… • Children need to spend time reading! • The amount children read predicts vocabulary and reading comprehension in high school. • Reading volume contributes to verbal intelligence (word definitions, background knowledge of the world, fluency, spelling). Stanovich, West, and Cunningham
Where Do We Learn Words? • Even children’s books have more varying and unusual words than prime time TV or children’s TV. • Rarity and variety of words in children’s books is greater than that in adult conversation. • Adult reading matter contains words 2–3 times rarer than those heard on TV. (Hayes & Ahrens (1988), cited in Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998, What Reading Does for the Mind, American Educator)
Selected Statistic for Major Sources of Spoken and Written Language (Sample Means) Rank of Median Word Rare Words per 1000 I. Printed Texts Abstracts of Scientific Articles 4389 128.0 Newspapers 1690 68.3 Popular Magazines 1399 65.7 Adult Books 1058 52.7 Comic Books 867 53.5 Children’s Books 627 30.9 Preschool Books 578 16.3 II. Television Texts Popular Prime-Time adult shows 490 22.7 Popular Prime-Time children’s shows 543 20.2 Cartoon shows 598 30.8 Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street 413 2.0 III. Adult Speech Expert Witness Testimony 1008 28.4 College graduates to friends/spouse 496 17.3 Adapted from Hayes and Ahrens (1988).
How We Know Words (1) By reading a lot: • at the right level of difficulty. • in sufficient amounts. • with sufficient motivation to pursue understanding.
Do Children Read? • Average 5th graders read less than 5 minutes per day outside of school. • 5th graders at the 80th %ile read over 20 times as many words as children reading at the 20th %ile, who read less than a minute outside of school on average. • Children who read a lot are exposed to many, many times more words and thus are afforded opportunities to expand their vocabularies. Biemiller (1999), Language and Reading Success