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Book Owners Have Smart Kids

There are some things you just don’t need science to study, but I suppose that I am glad that they did even if it’s just to feel a bit self-congratulatory. That’s because a recent study published in Research in Social Stratification and Mobility proved that when kids grow up around books – even if they haven’t been purchased for them – they are more likely to stick with school.

In my own experience, this was certainly true. Growing up in a house with an English and History teacher for a father, I had access to a wide variety of books such as The Glory and the Dream; FDR; Walden and Civil Disobedience; and the entire Kurt Vonnegut cannon.

It was convenient for me, too.  No need to beg Mom or Dad to drive me to the bookstore or library to choose a new book. I just had to climb up the bookshelves in the living room to get to the good stuff.

And in the days before Wikipedia, my father actually sold encyclopedias to supplement his teaching salary (which he also supplemented painting houses, coaching, and working retail jobs – this is how we value education in this country). I am not ashamed to admit that sometimes I just picked a letter and explored the encyclopedia. It’s colossally nerdy but I’m admitting it nonetheless.

For my son, I hope that means that someday he’ll pick up my copy of Walden or The Hobbit or the poetry of William Butler Yeats and feel that it’s something he has to reach for – literally and figuratively – and thereby incite him to learn even more.

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