Thirty Million Words bookA new book from Dana Suskind, MD, a cochlear implant surgeon, professor, and director of the Pediatric Hearing Loss and Cochlear Implant Program at The University of Chicago Medical School, explains why the most important thing parents can do for a child’s future success in life is to talk to him or her. The book, Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain, reveals the recent science behind the benefits of talking on a child’s language development, and outlines how parents can best put it into practice.

According to the book description on, a study by researchers Betty Hart and Todd Risley in 1995 found that some children heard 30 million fewer words by their fourth birthdays than others. The study found that 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. The researchers referred to this disparity in learning as “the achievement gap.”

Dr Suskind, who learned of this 30 million word gap in the course of her work with cochlear implant patients, began researching how to bridge that gap. Along with her sister-in-law, Beth Suskind, Dr Suskind founded the Thirty Million Word Initiative as a program for parents to learn to use the kind of parent-child communication that enables optimal neural development. She has reportedly tested the programs in and around Chicago across demographic groups. The programs ask parents to follow the 3 Ts: 1) Tune in to what your child is doing; 2) Talk more to your child using lots of descriptive words; and 3) Take turns with your child as you engage in conversation.

Suskind’s book shows parents how to make the words they use 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?”

According to Amazon, “if you care for children, this landmark book is essential reading.” The Amazon page for Dr Suskind includes a schedule of her upcoming appearances and book signings.

Source:; Dan Schwartz, The Hearing Blog