Thirty Million Words Book Summary - Thirty Million Words Book explained in key points
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Thirty Million Words summary

Dana Suskind

Building a Child’s Brain

4.6 (29 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Thirty Million Words by Dana Suskind is a parenting guide based on scientific research, showing how talking to children from an early age can boost their language development and lay a foundation for success.

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    Thirty Million Words
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    The formation of neural connections during the first three years of life lays a foundation for future cognitive abilities.

    From the moment you emerge from your mother’s womb, every single sound, sight and sensation you experience will affect the way you understand the world. This impact is especially palpable during the first three years of your life, during which time your brain’s neuronal network forms.

    Unlike other bodily organs, the brain is incomplete at birth and functions like the architectural blueprint for a house. Everyone is born with as many as 100 billion neurons, which are initially unconnected, like telephone poles without the lines.

    As these neurons become connected, they pave the way for increased brain function; during the critical years, from birth to three years old, between 700 and 1,000 new neuronal connections are made every second.

    This complex wiring has an impact on every cerebral function, from memory to emotion to motor skills and language. However, the initial rapid forging of connections is chaotic and the network is gradually pared down to the essentials through a process called synaptic pruning.

    Synaptic pruning removes extraneous pathways, culling those that are less used while fine-tuning the more specialized connections. The ability to alter these neuronal pathways, known as neuroplasticity, is never as great as it is during this period.

    And that’s a good thing, because the brain development that occurs during these first three years lays the foundation for future intellectual capacity. Just take the acquisition of language: this ability to interpret abstract strings of sounds to form meaning requires profound intelligence.

    In fact, a baby’s brain recognizes the specific sound patterns of her parents’ languages and strengthens these neural pathways, which will lay the foundation for speaking her native tongue. At the same time, the child’s brain will purge less frequently used sounds and pathways, reducing its ability to separate the sounds of a new language learned later in life. This is why many people struggle to pick up new languages as they grow older.

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    What is Thirty Million Words about?

    Thirty Million Words (2015) explains the importance of language in a child’s early development and long-term success. These blinks outline the optimal early language environment for a child and highlight the ways parents can help their children during these critical years.

    Thirty Million Words Review

    Thirty Million Words (2015) is an insightful exploration into the power of language in shaping a child's brain development. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Offers a fascinating look into the correlation between language exposure and a child's cognitive abilities, providing valuable insights for parents and educators.
    • Backed by scientific research and enriched with personal stories, it presents a compelling case for the importance of early language intervention.
    • The author's accessible writing style makes complex concepts easy to understand, ensuring an engaging and enlightening reading experience.

    Best quote from Thirty Million Words

    In a country where a great number of children cannot reach their highest potentials, the country cannot reach its highest potential, either.

    —Dana Suskind
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    Who should read Thirty Million Words?

    • New parents
    • Psychologists and educators
    • People who want to learn a new language.

    About the Author

    Dana Suskind is a surgeon specializing in hearing loss and cochlear implantation. She is the founder of the Thirty Million Words initiative, a program focused on the critical importance of early language exposure on a developing child.

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    Thirty Million Words FAQs 

    What is the main message of Thirty Million Words?

    The main message of Thirty Million Words is the power of language in shaping a child's future.

    How long does it take to read Thirty Million Words?

    The estimated reading time for Thirty Million Words is several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Thirty Million Words a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Thirty Million Words is a must-read for parents and educators. It provides valuable insights on early childhood development and the importance of language.

    Who is the author of Thirty Million Words?

    The author of Thirty Million Words is Dana Suskind.

    What to read after Thirty Million Words?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Thirty Million Words, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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