A few weeks ago, I wrote a post called Modeling Being a Lifelong Learner for Your Children. I argued that much of the problem with the “screen time” debate among parents is that it misses an obvious point, which is that kids will reproduce the behavior they see in their home. It does not matter how many rules parents have or how thoroughly they attempt to micromanage their kids if parents do not also model virtuous behavior themselves.
Well, here’s a recent study that seems to confirm my point: Scholarly culture: How books in adolescence enhance adult literacy, numeracy and technology skills in 31 societies. One of the biggest indicators of literacy, numeracy, and facility with technology in children is the size of the library in their house. Kids who grow up in houses with 350 or more books are the most literate adults. A home library is also a profound source of social mobility (meaning it provides a source of economic opportunity to kids who come from less privileged backgrounds).
Making books available and reading to children is the single most important thing a parent can do for their child’s education. You can get your kid into a trendy preschool. You can get your kid all the best gadgets on the market loaded with educational games. You can play them Beethoven in their crib. None of it matters if you don’t read as a family.