Researchers say that the number of words a child is exposed to in the first four years of life can have a big impact on their brain development, language acquisition and school readiness. Researchers say that children from disadvantaged backgrounds tend to hear far fewer words than children in higher income families, leaving them less prepared when they get to school. Detroit is one of five cities chosen to launch a new program that equips children with special devices known as talk pedometers. They work like regular pedometers but instead of counting steps, they count how many words a child hears and speaks during the day. The other cities selected are Birmingham, Alabama; Hartford, Connecticut; Louisville, Kentucky, and Virginia Beach, Virginia. The program was dubbed Providence Talks after it was piloted in Providence, Rhode Island. Early results there show it’s helping kids do better in school.