Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain

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Book Description

The founder and director of the Thirty Million Words Initiative, Professor Dana Suskind, explains why the most important—and astoundingly simple—thing you can do for your child’s future success in life is to talk to him or her, reveals the recent science behind this truth, and outlines precisely how parents can best put it into practice.

The research is in: Academic achievement begins on the first day of life with the first word said by a cooing mother just after delivery.

A study by researchers Betty Hart and Todd Risley in 1995 found that some children heard thirty million fewer words by their fourth birthdays than others. The children who heard more words were better prepared when they entered school. These same kids, when followed into third grade, had bigger vocabularies, were stronger readers, and got higher test scores. This disparity in learning is referred to as the achievement gap.

Professor Dana Suskind, MD, learned of this thirty million word gap in the course of her work as a cochlear implant surgeon at University of Chicago Medical School and began a new research program along with her sister-in-law, Beth Suskind, to find the best ways to bridge that gap. The Thirty Million Word Initiative has developed programs for parents to show the kind of parent-child communication that enables optimal neural development and has tested the programs in and around Chicago across demographic groups. They boil down to getting parents to follow the three Ts: Tune in to what your child is doing; Talk more to your child using lots of descriptive words; and Take turns with your child as you engage in conversation. Parents are shown how to make the words they serve up more enriching. For example, instead of telling a child, “Put your shoes on,” one might say instead, “It is time to go out. What do we have to do?” The lab’s new five-year longitudinal research program has just received funding so they can further corroborate their results.

The neuroscience of brain plasticity is some of the most valuable and revolutionary medical science being done today. It enables us to think and do better. It is making a difference in the lives of both the old and young.  If you care for children, this landmark book is essential reading.

Book reviewed by Temmerhorton

Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain
4.5 ACVEN Review By
Users Average 0 (0 votes)
Is this book interesting?5
How does compare to other books in the genre?4
Is it easy and enjoyable to read?4.5
There are many books that will tell you the process of development. You can find out what is behind your children's behaviors with a simple google search or visit to the pediatrician. This book is different because you learn what's missing and how to communicate better with your children.
The downside of this book is that, while it shows you what to do and explains why to do it, it does not show you examples of how to do it. It is up to you the reader to try to figure out how to incorporate it into your children's lives.
The way that a child develops affects everything around them. It changes the way that the view the world around them. If the bridge between communication is met then the behavioral problems that can ensue are frustrating for both the child and the adult that is dealing with them. Instead of focusing on what is normal for each period of development, learn how to handle the problems that could be expected. Once you have a plan in hand, everything is a lot easier to handle. That is what this book focuses on. It is more about the gap that is missing and how to bridge the gap. This is a study based book. With this being the case, the reader cannot expect it to have all the answers upon completion of the book. Further study is needed so we will all be waiting on bated breath for the future editions. This is a great book for all parents to have on hand, to read, and to look for clues. Raising kids is not easy and it is nice to have a helpful book to enlighten the way to understanding.


  • 1 - Not recommended for reading.
  • 2 - Somewhat engaging, book is just OK.
  • 3 - Pretty engaging, good book.
  • 4 - Engaging, very good book.
  • 5 - Really engaging, excellent book.

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Book Details

Title: Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain


Length: 320 Pages

Language: English

Publication Date: 2015-09-08

ISBN-10: 0525954872

ISBN-13: 9780525954873

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