According to a new study published in Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, owning books is more important than parents’ level of education or job in predicting their kids’ academic achievement.
If parents have a college education, their children have a 16% greater chance of finishing college. But just having lots of books boosts their chances by 20%. Even a small number of books at home makes a huge difference. Just 25 books predicts a child will have 2 extra years of schooling.
According to the study authors:
Thus it seems that scholarly culture, and the taste for books that it brings, flows from generation to generation largely of its own accord, little affected by education, occupational status, or other aspects of class …
(Full story here)
Here’s the thing–and I speak as the mom of 2 book reading kids–I’ve got to ask, do you think Kindle etc will do it? When I’m on the computer, my kids look over my shoulder to see what I’m doing, but if they get the computer from me, they’re off to games (if I let them).
If they take a book out of my hands, they look at the cover, they read the blurb, they flip the pages. My older d, whose taste runs to short funny books, read Anne Tyler’s Digging to America because she saw me reading it, and wanted to race me to the finish. My younger d watched her older sister read, and began picking up her books. Both of them read in bed at night, quickly tucking books under pillows when I walk by.
As toddlers, my children handled books in the bath, they pulled books off shelves and were satisfied with the chaos. They sat amidst it, pretending to read, looking at pictures and text, absorbing the delight of something clearly important as there was a special place for all these books. They were entranced by colour, thickness, size. Turning the books upside down and back to front, they sniffed the pages. Graduating from board books to paper was exciting; so was graduating from picture books to chapter books.
This is one of the reasons for my button on this blog: “I pledge to read the printed word.” I don’t think paper books are dinosaurs. I think that they are slow food for the brain.