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30 Million Words: Building the Architecture of the Brain


Georgia has one of the lowest high-school graduation rates in the nation—48th.

Brenda Fitzgerald, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, can trace a trajectory to that dismal ranking back to early brain development. She says that during the first few months of life there are 700 to 1,000 neuron stimulations occurring in the brain every second. Babies who receive verbal stimulation from their caregivers are literally growing their brains faster than children who do not receive interactions like talking, signing, and reading. “In these early months, there is a huge opportunity for influence and a huge chance for problems if that stimulation does not occur,” she said.

By age 3, children from more affluent families know twice as many words as children from less affluent families—30 million words to be exact. This 30-million word gap is one of the primary reasons that two-thirds of Georgia’s children are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade. But it’s not the money that’s widening the gap. Fitzgerald, an OB/GYN, says it’s a lack of Language Nutrition.

She says we have a huge opportunity to change Georgia’s trajectory and get our kids on the path to literacy. Watch her video to find out how:

Then go back to hear Get Georgia Reading Campaign Director Arianne Weldon explain why we have to change the way we think, talk, act, and work together to really drive reading proficiency home in Georgia.