May 27, 2010

Want Your Kids to Finish College?

Then buy books—lots of books. About 500 books should do the trick.

According to a study published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, there exists a strong correlation between a child’s academic achievement and the number of books his or her parents own. It’s even more important than a parent’s IQ or if parents went to college or hold professional jobs.

The study, conducted in conjunction with the University of Nevada Sociology Department, took place over 20 years, in 27 countries, and surveyed over 70,000 people. It turns out that children growing up in homes with more than 500 books spent 3.2 years longer in school, and they are nearly 20 percent more likely to finish college.

Even a relatively small number of books in the home can make a difference. A child whose family has 25 books will average two more years of school than a child whose family is without books.

Researchers found that, “Regardless of how many books the family already has, each addition to a home library helps the children get a little farther in school.” Books promote a scholarly culture described as a “way of life in homes where books are numerous, esteemed, read, and enjoyed.”

A Fairfax mom with college-bound children estimates that she has close to 500 books tucked away on shelves throughout her house. “I guess I always thought it was important to have books at home, if you can afford them,” she commented. “It sets a tone, I think, especially if the kids see you read and refer to them often.”

So the moral of this story is that to increase the likelihood your child will attend and finish college, go out and buy more books. Actually reading them might help too.

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