Books: Don't call them clutter

TV design shows and magazines (my personal weakness) have made me increasingly allergic to clutter around the house. Still, I've always felt that part of what makes a house a home are the books that fill it--bound slices of life afar and ancient, memoirs, fiction and fantasy. And the latest research shows, despite the heralds of technology, the book is not dead. In fact, the more the better when it comes to our children's futures.

It's common knowledge that exposing children to books and reading early in life stimulates their growing minds and helps to instill a lifelong love of learning. But now a new study shows that books--as physical objects, just lying around the house--may be even more influential in a child's development than we thought. 

The study, which was recently published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, tracked children in 27 countries. It found a strong correlation between having books in the home and the number of years of school a child will complete over his or her lifetime. 

Apparently, having 500 books or gives children the same advantage of having university educated parents. Even just 25 books was linked to two more years on average of schooling. 

Another study coming out later this year will show that giving low-income children a dozen books of their choosing at the beginning of the summer may be just as effective as summer school in preventing the notorious "summer slide"-- the achievement gap that expands each year between low-income children and their more affluent peers.

Acting on this evidence, schools in seven states are giving thousands of low-income children free books this summer. Read the story in USA Today.

We can each do our part. Give a child a book today. Donate old books to child care centers, libraries and community centers where a child might stumble upon them and enter a whole new world of possibilities.