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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET CHAPTER ONE a lifetime. These are the very skills that will be called upon when the time comes to take the standardized tests in third grade that first sort out the winners and the losers; the skills that will be called upon when a research paper is assigned in high school; and again when Harvard asks for an original essay on a scholarship application. School may be the place where young people go to become educated, but make no mistake about it, school is a deadly serious cutthroat competition that will determine a child’s success in life at a very early age. Percentile rankings on fourth-grade achieve- ment tests will correlate highly with scores earned in tenth grade, drop-out rates, enrollment in postsecondary education, career opportunities, lifelong earning power, and even incarceration rates (Chavous 2012). That said, the ability to communicate effectively is perhaps the single most important skill a person can develop for success in school and success in life. It is acquired in the developing brain during the child’s early years almost exclusively by listening to other human beings communicate. The level of proficiency in communication any individual might achieve is directly related to the quality of communication the child is exposed to in early childhood. Discourse in lower-income homes can also be quite rich. Words are free, after all. But in too many homes, the children of poverty are not exposed to anywhere near the quantity or quality of lan- guage as their middle-income competition. The National Associ- ation for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) puts it this way: “On average, children growing up in low-income families have dramatically less rich experience with language in their homes than do middle-class children. They hear far fewer words and are 10 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL