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Changing a generation - one child, one book at a time



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Resource Section

Here are some general resources to read about reading to children. We have a special section of resources for children with a parent in prison. The Videos Section lets you watch instead of read, and the Research Section has links to specific articles about the value of reading to a child.

Contra Costa County Libraries,

Project Second Chance, a program run by the Contra Costa County Libraries, offers free, confidential one-on-one basic literacy instruction to people who are over 16 years of age, out of school, and conversant in English.

Half-Price Books,

First Book,
If you're an educator or program administrator, and at least 70 percent of the children in your program come from low-income families, First Book can help you get books for free! (All you pay is shipping. You can get a book that lists at $14.95 for 45 cents.) Read more, on

Reading Rockets,;
and, in particular,
Reading with Your Grandchildren on

Early Moments,;
and, in particular,
Reading to Babies on

Reach Out and Read,

Raising a Reader, from

First 5 California has many resources for parents in the Parents Learning Center section of their website including:
90% of a Child's Brain Develops in the First 5 Years of Life.
Read from the start, read for life.

Tandem, Partners in Early Learning. An organization devoted to reading to children.

Resources for Children of Incarcerated Parents

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has 36 selected resources to help parents, workers, and policymakers help kids stay connected to parents who are in prison.

Family to Family California has a long list of scholarly papers on families with incarcerated parents.

Children of Incarcerated Parents (PDF) was written for the National Conference of State Legislatures.


Still Face Experiment A psychologist and a mother demonstrate the importance of smiles and gestures on a baby.

Trauma, Brain and Relationship: Helping Children Heal A psychologist discusses the effect of drugs, alcohol and stress on a baby while it is in the womb.

Tips for Raising a Reader (First 5 California).

The 30-million word gap on You Tube

Just for fun: Sesame Street - Read Me a Story. (Big Bird sings)

Hear Anne Fernald, Ph.D.,Director of Center for Infant Studies at Stanford University discussing the importance of language development.

A Window To The World: Promoting Early Language and Literacy Development This one is about children from 0 - 3 years old.

Research Section

These are scholarly research papers on the value of reading to children, and the disparity between children of different income levels. Each link opens a new page.

Here's a paper from the ECEC (Early Care and Education Consortium). It tells us that reading aloud to infants and toddlers promotes early language and literacy skills. (PDF, 855 KB)
(June 2017)

Reading physical books to kids makes parents more affectionate than reading on a tablet.
(January 2017)

A study at Stanford finds that the gap between vocabularies of children from rich families and poor ones has narrowed since 1998.
(26 Aug 2016)'s Dr. John S. Hutton is a pediatrician, a researcher, an author, a children’s bookstore owner and a father of three. This video tells you the benefits of reading aloud to your child(ren) for just 15 minutes a day.
(23 Feb 2016)

An inspiring conversation with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The page has links to a recording of the webinar, and another to the slides they used in the presentation.
(24 Dec 2015)

The Huddle has some very scholarly research articles. The rest of their web site is for members only, with membership limited to those who the administrator approves, so don't click on "About us". It is a part of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading.
Sample article titles:
Can Intensive Early Childhood Intervention Programs Eliminate Income-Based Cognitive and Achievement Gaps?
Investing in Our Young People.
The Role of Family and Home in the Literacy Development of Children from Low-Income Backgrounds.
The 30 Million Word Gap: the role of parent-child verbal interaction in language and literacy development.
Race Matters in Early School Attendance.
Early Elementary Performance and Attendance in Baltimore City Schools' Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten
(19 Dec 2015)

An Indiana University study suggests that children encounter 70% more unique words while reading picture books than they do within everyday conversation, which leads to a richer early vocabulary. This makes sense when one considers that each book is a story about a different topic. Many of the words used in ocean-based The Adventures of Miki the Narwhal, by Joseph Pro, may not come up frequently in conversation for a young family in landlocked Sacramento!
(Link goes to an abstract, with an offer to buy the complete study.)
(09 Sep 2015)

3rd Grade Reading Success Matters: As early as 18 months, low-income children begin to fall behind in vocabulary development and other skills critical for school success. Parents play an enormous role in closing this gap, as do daycare providers, pediatricians, preschools programs, and the broader community.
(By The campaign for Grade Level Reading)
(21 Aug 2015)

Public housing authorities pilot education programs: Read how, in an effort to improve literacy rates among children from low-income families, public housing authorities across the state are piloting programs that help parents prepare their children for school and increase their access to books.
(21 Aug 2015)

Early Grades Crucial in Path to Reading Proficiency: Children who are not reading proficiently by 3rd grade are widely seen as being in academic crisis. Educators are increasingly looking for actions they can take in the younger grades - even as early as preschool - to head off failure later in a child's school career.
(26 Jun 2015)

Eyes on the Early Years, a newsletter devoted to early education. The August 2015 edition has a particularly good article, "Better vocabulary skills at 24 months tied to greater math, reading and behavior skills in kindergarten".

Equity in Preschooling. The US Department of Education finds a wide disparity is the availibility and quality of preschoooling.

Mexican-American children lag behind their anglo peers by age 2 in language skills, a study finds. (Their social and emotional skills are just fine, though.)

Teachable moments
What to many might seem an obvious instructional tool has been formalized into a growing curriculum - teaching parents how to use life's ordinary moments to prepare their preschool-aged children for success in kindergarten and beyond.

Stanford University Language Learning Lab
A web site devoted to studying how infants learn languages, and helping parents.

Read aloud to your infants from birth,
says the the American Academy of Pediatrics. (NY Times).

Language Gap between Rich and Poor (Stanford University). This is 2013 research article about a Stanford study that shows the language gap between rich and poor begins in Infancy. Research by Stanford psychologists reveals that 2-year-old children of lower-income families may already be six months behind in language development.

The 30-million Word Gap. (PDF)
The title comes from the fact that in four years,
an average child in a professional family would have heard almost 45 million words,
an average child in a working-class family would have heard 26 million words, and
an average child in a welfare family would have heard 13 million words.

Childhood Poverty
and stress can hurt brain development.

No Rich Child Left Behind
"Here's a fact that may not surprise you: the children of the rich perform better in school, on average, than children from middle-class or poor families..." How many books they have, and how often their parents read to them, are two of the reasons.

Beat the Summer Slide
Many low-income students don't read during the summer vacation. Those three months off take a disastrous toll. Experts call the effect the "summer slide". This site explains it, and gives you a chance to donate a book.

Startling (and heart-breaking) Statistics
57% of students failed the California Standards Test in English.
The USA ranked 12th out of 20 high income countries in a study of literacy.
44 million American adults are now unable to read a simple story to their children.

Empowering our children by bridging the word gap
An article from the White House Blog.

The Word Gap
An article from the National Association for the Education of Young Children. By 3 years of age, there is a 30 million word gap between children from the wealthiest and poorest families.

gold dividing line

REadingADvantage, Inc.
Changing a generation - one child, one book at a time.
1145 Second St., Suite A, #113
Brentwood, CA 94513
Phone: (925) 698-0098

Questions about Reading Advantage? Write to our director, Deborah Polk,
Questions about the web site? Write to our Web Master,

All material © REadingADvantage, Inc.

Site started: May 8, 2014.
This page updated: January 26, 2021