Fast Facts about Early Literacy

A baby is born with about 80 billion brain cells.  About 700 connections each second are made between these cells in the first three years.  How adults talk to young children and how often impacts their vocabulary growth and future learning.


By 18 months, children in families with low incomes begin to fall behind their peers in vocabulary development.


By age three:

  • On average, children in families with low incomes have heard less language and up to 30 million fewer words than their affluent peers.
  • A child’s vocabulary can predict third grade reading achievement.
  • A child’s brain is 80 percent of its adult size and essential wiring for thinking and learning has occurred.


By age five, the average child from a family with low income recognizes only 9 letters of the alphabet, compared to 22 letters for a child from a middle-class family.


Of first through third grade students in the U. S.:

  • About 80 percent of students from families with low incomes are not reading proficiently.
  • Students not reading on grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers.