Own Books and Your Child Will Be Smarter

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I love this article in the NY Times, which quotes a very important study that says that owning books is the most important thing you can do for your child academically.  There are so many opportunities to acquire books affordably through books from school fairs or second hand shops, here’s why it is such a good idea to do so.  Read the article here at the New York Times Website!  CLICK HERE.

Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves

S. Craig Watkins, a professor who studies the digital media behavior of young people in the department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin, said that he and his family almost exclusively stream music now in their home and that he and his wife stored their old CDs in a seldom-used cabinet. To his teenage daughter, “those CDs are, at best, background matter,” he said.

“I can’t recall her ever taking time to search through what’s in there,” Professor Watkins said. “But I could imagine that when she gets a little older, it might become meaningful to her — that those artifacts are a way to connect back to us.”

Sometimes, though, he and his daughter discuss what is on their devices’ playlists.

There are several big upsides to growing up with streaming audio, one of which is accessibility: assuming I was interested enough, I could have explored, for free, the Beatles’ catalog on the Internet far beyond the scope of my parents’ collection.

But in our digital conversion of media (perhaps buttressed by applicationof the popular KonMari method of decluttering), physical objects have been expunged at a cost. Aside from the disappearance of record crates and CD towers, the loss of print books and periodicals can have significant repercussions on children’s intellectual development.

Perhaps the strongest case for a household full of print books came from a 2014 study published in the sociology journal Social Forces. Researchers measured the impact of the size of home libraries on the reading level of 15-year-old students across 42 nations, controlling for wealth, parents’ education and occupations, gender and the country’s gross national product.

After G.N.P., the quantity of books in one’s home was the most important predictor of reading performance. The greatest effect was seen in libraries of about 100 books, which resulted in approximately 1.5 extra years of grade-level reading performance. (Diminishing returns kick in at about 500 books, which is the equivalent of about 2.2 extra years of education.)

Libraries matter even more than money; in the United States, with the size of libraries being equal, students coming from the top 10 percent of wealthiest families performed at just one extra grade level over students from the poorest 10 percent.

The implications are clear: Owning books in the home is one of the best things you can do for your children academically. It helps, of course, if parents are reading to their children and reading themselves, not simply buying books by the yard as décor.


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