This afternoon I want you to count the number of books in your home. That’s right! Go through your house and count all of the books. If the number is less than 100 then you must make a trip to Barnes & Noble or visit Amazon.com and start buying books. Depending on what your budget can support, it may take you a few weeks or months, but keep buying books until you have at least 100 in your home. In a way I am kidding, but in another way I am not. Today’s link is a study conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts. The study To Read or Not To Read, examines reading habits and reading proficiency in the United States. The chairman of the NEA at the time of this study was Dana Gioia, a believer with whom we have much in common educationally. The study looks at many different factors and comes to some alarming conclusions -reading by teenagers is declining, reading by adults is declining, and reading proficiency rates are falling across the spectrum.
The story the data tell is simple, consistent, and alarming. Although there has been measurable progress in recent years in reading ability at the elementary school level, all progress appears to halt as children enter their teenage years. There is a general decline in reading among teenage and adult Americans. Most alarming, both reading ability and the habit of regular reading have greatly declined among college graduates. These negative trends have more than literary importance. As this report makes clear, the declines have demonstrable social, economic, cultural, and civic implications.
In regard to having 100 books in your home, the study reveals a VERY consistent relationship between student test scores and the number of books in the home. This study showed that students who reported having more than 100 books in their homes consistently scored higher on standardized tests -in every subject! The pdf is almost 100 pages long, so just read the executive summary and look at the tables on pages 72-73. The take-away is that the culture of reading in your home has a profound influence on your child’s future -and not just his test scores, but on his future employment, on his engagement with society, and on his maturity as a human being.