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What Do the Numbers Say?

Let's do some simple math...


This is the number of minutes an average six-year-old can sit, comprehend and retain information in a given amount of time.

56 +111 =167/2 =83.5


This is the median average of words a typical first grader, or six-year-old, can read in a minute.

84 x 6 = 504

504 words (on average) can be comprehended and retained by a typical first grader.

646 + 805 + 770 + 1054 + 859 = 4,134/5 = 826.8

827-word average when selecting 5 picture books at random from children’s home library.

What does this mean for you?

Based off my calculations, my own five- and six-year-old children are reading picture books with an average of 827 words, when they are only retaining a little over half of the plot. Even if I were to read these stories out loud to my children, which is approximately 238 words per minute for the average adult, I am trying to cram in about 1,200 words in the given amount of time they can developmentally sit and retain information.

So, what does this mean?

It means that based off child developmental research and an understanding of cognitive skills, there is a “Sweet spot” when it comes to finding text that allows early elementary students to fully engage and comprehend the storyline. A picture book with about 400-600 words would be ideal for a child that is starting to identify and string together sight words and identify developmentally appropriate vocabulary. Even with the text being read out loud by an adult, a child will best engage in the text auditorily and visually when it is less than 600 words at the early elementary level.

One of our top concerns in education throughout the country is literacy skills, which goes beyond just reading words on the page. Literacy skills include character analysis, plot development, cause and effect, problem/solution and so much more. To tap into these skills at an early age, you must provide text that developmentally and cognitively meets them at their current level of ability for analysis, reasoning, and retention.

When writing Finley the Fairy, my hope was that I could fill this void in the market by writing a children’s book in under 450 words that has an established setting, a dynamic character and a fully developed plot. In addition, based on extensive research, providing rhythmic patterns and rhyme taps into student engagement and participation at an early age.

Follow along as I prepare to release Finley the Fairy in hope that she can change the way we are reading with our young learners.

Believe in the magic of reading.


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