This article is not directly related to ACEs but gives examples of how behavioural nudges were used to improve the reading age of young children. This could spark ideas about nudges that could prevent ACEs.


Many reports have stressed how important it is for parents to read regularly to children under 5 as a predictor of good attainment.

How could this be encouraged?

Evidence suggests that wealthier parents spend more time engaging with their children, particularly when it comes to educational activities. The speculation is that low-income parents, strapped for time and money, may be so focused on immediate needs that they are forced to ignore other important considerations. Failing to connect with their children can have costly long-term implications.

Researchers from the Universities of Chicago and Toronto held an experiment that used behavioural nudges to encourage parents to engage more with their children. The participants in the study were 169 parents whose children were enrolled in a subsidized preschool program. All 169 parents received electronic tablets that were pre-loaded with over 500 children’s books and kept track of the amount of time parents read to their kids using the device. In addition, a randomly-selected subset of these parents received various 'nudges'.

On average, parents who received 'nudges' read 88.3 minutes more to their children than parents in the control group—an increase of over 100%.

What were the 'nudges'?

The program consisted of three nudges:

  1. Parents were asked to set a 'minutes' reading goal at the beginning of each week. Then, at the end of each week, parents were informed how many minutes they had read to their children using the device. They also received a congratulatory text when they reached their reading goal.
  2. A daily text message that stressed the importance of reading to children, and encouraged parents to do it more.
  3. A mass text message to all parents that commended the parent who had read the most in a given week.

The experiment shows that behavioural nudges can increase parental engagement and benefit children. It is important to note, though, that the sample for the study was drawn from a self-selected group of parents, who valued preschool programs enough to enrol their children in one. However, gains could be significant if the results hold true for all.


More nudge examples are shown in the Wiki link above.