Dr. Dana Suskind
Pediatric physician and author of Thirty Million Words: Building a Child's Brain
Photo credit: Gulnara Samoilova
About Dana Suskind
Dr. Dana Suskind is a Professor of Surgery at the University of Chicago, Director of the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Program, and Founder and Director of the Thirty Million Words® Initiative, a program dedicated to harnessing the power of language to build a child’s brain and impact his or her future. Dr. Suskind is also the author of Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain, published in September 2015.
A well-known study by Betty Hart and Todd Risley in 1995 found some children heard thirty million fewer words by their fourth birthdays than others. The children who heard more words were better prepared when they entered school. These same children had bigger vocabularies, stronger reading skills, and higher test scores when they entered the next grade. Dr. Suskind learned of this thirty million word gap while she was working as a cochlear implant surgeon at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Intrigued and alarmed by the study, she began the Thirty Million Words® Initiative in response to this thirty million word gap and is actively working to close this ever-widening achievement gap.
In her book and keynote presentations, Dr. Suskind details the critical importance of early language exposure on a developing child’s brain and encourages parents to take an active role in this development. Drawing on her own experiences with patients and the compelling research on the neuroscience of brain plasticity, Dr. Suskind explains that the most important, and astoundingly simple, thing that one can do for a child’s future success in life is to talk to him or her.
Dr. Suskind and the Thirty Million Words® Initiative have been profiled by numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, NPR, The Economist, and Slate.com and they have received support from The Department of Education and The Hemera Foundation. She also received the University of Chicago Medical Faculty Award for “Distinguished Leader in Program Innovation”. Dr. Suskind lives in Chicago with her family.
Thirty Million Words
The founder and director of the Thirty Million Words Initiative, Dr. Dana Suskind explains why just simply talking to a child is the single most important thing one can do to help the child’s future success in life. Suskind reveals the recent science behind this truth and outlines precisely how to best put it into practice.
The Importance of Language and the Science of Brain Development
Words are the building blocks of a child’s brain. The more words a child hears, the faster their vocabularies grow, the higher their IQ scores and the greater their reading comprehension, spatial and math abilities. A dearth of words during the critical years of a child’s development (from age 0 to 3) can prevent that child from ever reaching their full potential. By tuning in, talking more, and taking turns with their children, parents can help close the achievement gap, one child at a time.
Books by Dana Suskind
Media About Dana Suskind
- 212 572-2013
- Dana Suskind travels from Chicago, IL
Thirty Million Words
“Dr. Dana Suskind is a one-person change agent. In this beautifully written book, she infuses the wisdom of a physician with the heart of a mother. Parents, policy makers and educators, this book is for you. It is informative, compassionate and a call to action designed to enrich our greatest natural resource, our children.” —Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Temple University, author of Einstein Never Used Flashcards