Blog: The Educated Reporter

Bookworms produce academic butterflies.

Sorry—I had a really hard time coming up with a title.

The Chronicle of Higher Ed writes up a study that found that the strongest correlator to academic attainment is how many books his or her parents own. It’s an even stronger factor than parents’ education level. Yay, Milo will be in school forever! But do library books count? And what about our twelve boxes of books in storage?

I once read that a home should have books in every room. I am not sure if this was for interior decorating or intellectual reasons, but I thought at the time, of course. I have visited a lot of poor families whose dearth of books disappoints but does not surprise me; it is far stranger to me to see, as I sometimes do, no books in middle-class homes. No children’s books, either! (These houses tend to have televisions in the bedrooms; wonder what that correlation is?)

A few years ago Dick Allington told me of a study I think he ran that found that children who got to choose a bunch of books to take home at the end of the school year lost less learning over the summer than those who attended summer school! That says something about the power of reading … or the lousiness of summer school instruction?

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