It’s common knowledge that reading to children is critical to their development, and a recent study out of The Ohio State University delves into exactly why it’s so important. The study, which will be appearing in a future print issue of the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, looked at how many words children were exposed to before kindergarten.

The researchers looked at the average number of words in popular board books and picture books. According to the results, children who had five books read to them each day were exposed to 1,483,300 words. Children who were read to one or two times per week were exposed to 63,570 words – a striking difference.

One of the reasons that it is so important to read to children is that the vocabulary in books, even simple board and picture books, is much richer than the vocabulary we use in conversation. It also leads into conversations about what was read, which can add even more words to a child’s vocabulary, along with introducing them to more complex ideas and situations than they may be exposed to in every day life.

The main takeaway from the study is to spend as much time reading to your child as you can. Your local library can provide a wealth of resources to help you find books you, and your child will have a good time. It’s a great way to spend quality time together because it’s not just fun, it’s an investment in your little one’s future.