Today’s New York Times features a hopeful article, Trying to Close a Knowledge Gap, Word by Word, about the impact of exposing children, especially those of poverty, to greater quantity and quality of vocabulary. This current trend, greatly espoused by Hillary Clinton’s Too Small To Fail initiative is absolutely laudable.

But while words are undoubtedly building blocks for literacy, healthy development requires a diet far more complicated than simply “more words.” Words are delivered in the context of relationships. Nurturing, responsive, consistent, and empathic caregivers; safe environments free from toxic stress; nutritious diets: these are the fundamental pillars for growing healthy brains in our littlest citizens. Failure to provide any and all can lead to profound deficits in learning, relationships, and significantly negative health consequences that can endure a lifetime.

No alternative bedtime stories for either young children or for their public policy makers are preventative or curative.