Reading is one of those skills that everyone needs, but one that can be tough to teach a reluctant kid, or one who struggles to learn letters. We all want our kids to succeed, though, and reading comprehension is one of the most important skills for success across the board.

So, if improving their vocabulary and comprehension was as easy as turning on the subtitles, why not give it a try?

A new organization called Turn On The Subtitles says it will do just that – and what’s more, if screen time doubles as reading time, do we have to feel so guilty when the kids get more than their pediatricians recommend?

Image Credit: Turn On The Subtitles

The group says that their studies have shown that watching television with the subtitles on can as much as double the odds of your kiddo becoming a good reader. If you’re reading and listening in the same language it’s really more closed captioning, which allows viewers to read, word for word, what’s being said on the screen.

We know our kids love the television shows and videos they beg to watch every day, and with the captions on, that love could translate easily into a joy for reading.

A comprehensive international review shows that “in an academic study of 2,350 children, 34% became good readers with schooling alone. But when exposed to 30 minutes a week of subtitled film songs, that proportion more than doubled to 70%.”

Actor and activist Stephen Fry has been tapped to herald the project, and you can hear what he has to say about the project in the video below.

Turn On The Subtitles says that even though the push has had the biggest impact in India, using subtitles to boost literacy has also been confirmed “in several English and non-English speaking countries,” and that “exposure to captions which match the sound directly can contribute to reading advancement and learning language.”

The program promises that the key to these gains is showing content that’s compelling to the viewer, and MIT’s John Gabrieli, a researcher in the field of cognitive neuroscience, explains that emotion and reason combine to “propel learning very powerfully.”

Basically, they already like watching the programs, and by putting the words on the screen, their brain will begin to associate the pleasure of watching with the pleasure of reading.

Though it’s helpful to leave the subtitles on all the time, the activity works best with programs your kid has seen over and over again, because they know what’s coming next and will be more likely to read the words instead of watch the action.

Bonus, because we all know that kids watch the same thing over and over and over and never ever complain.

There you go – turn on your closed captions, pass it on, and relax about that screen time, mama.

It’s science.