In Virginia this summer, Arlington Public Schools transported students in poor neighborhoods to community libraries for group readings. Studies say children from low-income families may hear roughly 30 million fewer words by age 3 than their more affluent peers.
Credit Bill O'Leary / The Washington Post/Getty Images
In the early 1990s, a team of researchers decided to follow about 40 volunteer families — some poor, some middle class, some rich — during the first three years of their new children's lives. Every month, the researchers recorded an hour of sound from the families' homes. Later in the lab, the team listened back and painstakingly tallied up the total number of words spoken in each household.