Talk Is Essential in Fostering Young Children’s Development

Talk Is Essential in Fostering Young Children’s Development

Parents and caregivers boost children's language skills just by talking to them

Talk matters. Engaging, rich, responsive talk—”play talk”—is essential to young children’s language, intellectual, and social-emotional development. Parents and caregivers who engage in play talk share valuable language learning opportunities with children and provide them with the foundation for later literacy and academic success. Studies, such as Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley’s landmark Meaningful Differencesresearch, have shown that a greater amount of high quality play talk with children before age 3 is associated with better language and literacy outcomes later in childhood. A new resource, Talk to Me, Baby! How You Can Support Young Children’s Language Development (Brookes Publishing, April 2009), is now available to help parents and professionals ensure that their conversations with children start them on the journey to future success.

Talk to Me, Baby! presents effective techniques to improve the quality of early language experiences from the “baby babbles” of infancy to the pre-literacy skills of kindergartners. The resource is filled with language-building activities that young children and adults will enjoy together. Parents and other caregivers will also gain valuable information, including the types of books that babies enjoy most, tips for talking with toddlers, and up-to-date knowledge on topics like emotional and social development, early memory and story-telling, bilingualism, and the process of learning to read.

Language development is fostered in caring relationships by frequent, vocabulary-stretching conversations that build on young children’s natural curiosity,” emphasizes author and early education expert Betty S. Bardige, Ed.D. When parents and caregivers increase their use of play talk, they encourage a child’s learning, resulting in a rapid expansion of vocabulary, increase of self confidence, and richer interactions with peers and adults that fuel further learning. “How adults talk with children is, of course, reflective of their own cultural and linguistic backgrounds,” adds Bardige. “But all cultures support play talk, and all adults can enhance children’s development by talking with them—and getting them to talk back.”

Talk to Me, Baby! has been praised by experts in the early childhood field. “[This book is] a significant contribution to the field of early childhood and language development . . . [it] beautifully integrates theory, research, and practice through vignettes and examples,” says Billie J. Enz, Ph.D., Early Childhood Program Coordinator and Professor at the College of Education at Arizona State University. “Betty Bardige has a real knack for making complex developmental concepts accessible to all of us!” adds Laura Justice, Ph.D., Professor of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University.

Talk to Me, Baby! How You Can Support Young Children’s Language Development is available from Brookes Publishing (1-800-638-3775;

About Dr. Bardige

A developmental psychologist, educator, and child advocate, Betty S. Bardige, Ed.D., speaks and writes widely on the importance of early language development and what parents, teachers, and communities can do to promote it. She is the Vice President of the A.L. Mailman Family Foundation in White Plains, New York, where she focuses on improving the systems and policies that affect very young children and their families. Dr. Bardige holds a doctorate in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her previous books include At a Loss for Words (Temple University Press, 2005) and Building Literacy with Love (Zero to Three Press, 2005). She can be reached through her website

About Brookes Publishing

For 30 years, Brookes Publishing has been a leading provider of resources on child development, early intervention, education, disabilities, communication and language, behavior, and mental health. An independent company, Brookes Publishing is headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. Please visit to learn more.

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