Monday, November 19, 2007

Do you want your children to do better on math tests? Buy a 100 books

There is a joke that goes:

"A statistician refuses to fly after reading the alarmingly high probability that there will be a bomb on any given plane. Later he finds that the probability of there being two bombs on any given flight is very low. Now whenever he flies, he always carries one bomb with him."

In Readers are Leaders Carmon writes about a recent NEA study that found children from families with a hundred books or more do better on math tests. I wonder how many parents will go out and buy a hundred books. Like Carmon, I have trouble imagining a house with less than ten books.

The study, To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence, is by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The report was just announced today and is hitting the news. Google News shows hundreds of hits. This report is a follow up to a 2004 NEA report.

Dana Gioia, the NEA Chairman, says: "This study shows the startling declines, in how much and how well Americans read, that are adversely affecting this country's culture, economy, and civic life as well as our children's educational achievement."

From the press release the key findings of the report are:

1) Americans are reading less
2) Americans are reading less well
3) The declines in reading have civic, social, and economic implications

The New York Times article that Carmon referenced says there are people challenging the claims of the report:

"The new report is likely to provoke as much debate as the previous one. Stephen Krashen, a professor emeritus of education at the University of Southern California, said that based on his analysis of other data, reading was not on the decline. He added that the endowment appeared to be exaggerating the decline in reading scores and said that according to federal education statistics, the bulk of decreases in 12th-grade reading scores had occurred in the early 1990s, and that compared with 1994 average reading scores in 2005 were only one point lower."

I don't know if reading is declining in the United States. I expect it is. One of the benefits we find to homeschooling is our daughters have more time to read. They love to read. They view reading as a reward.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, reading


mrs. dani said...

well, my kids must be super smart! we have close to 4,000. i noticed they never stopped to think it might have something to do with WHAT TYPE OF BOOKS people might have or how involved the parents are with the kids education. i know people with no books in their house yet every member of the family maxes out their library card every week.

Heather said...

"I have trouble imagining a house with less than ten books." Me too. I have a friend that's a preschool teacher and she tells me of kids that have NO books at home. None. I probably had well over 100 children's books in my house by the time my firstborn was 6 months old. Not having books in the house is just an insane concept to me. Might as well say you don't have running water.

kat said...

Ditto, ditto!
I started collecting children's books when I found out I was pregnant and we were moving to Italy, a place which might have a library on base or not and no English books in the local library. By the time baby #1 was born I had over 400 books and now 4 more kids later, we have over 4000 children's books.

What would their childhood be for them or me without Dr. Seuss, Francis the badger, or the hundreds of other authors and characters who are part of our life?

While I gripe about having to put dozens of storybooks back on the shelf each day and finding library books under the bed, I am grateful that my kids love to look and read books. I am grateful that they think going to the library as fun as a trip to the playground, and trips in the car are not punctuated by audio from the van's DVD player(we don't have one), but by giggles from excited readers in the backseat.

Crimson Wife said...

I have this sneaking suspicion that those people with fewer than 10 books in the home would consider my family absolutely insane to have spent 3 years without TV reception, cable, or satellite. Even now that we do have cable, I rarely watch it...