The Null Device

Book owners have smarter kids

Want your kids to turn out smart? Don't worry about sending them to the most expensive intensive-cramming preschools, but do make sure they grow up in a house full of books. A study has found that the amount of books in a household is correlated with how many years of schooling the children in that household complete. Of course, correlation is not causation (it could be, for example, that people inclined to academic achievement for some other, immutable, reason are inclined to own books); however, another study found that giving low-income children 12 books of their own choice on the first day of summer vacation is successful in arresting the process by which they would otherwise fall behind their more privileged peers.
Of course, you don't have to buy a book to read it, but the act of giving someone a book of his or her own has an undeniable, totemic power. As much as we love libraries, there is something in possessing a book that's significantly different from borrowing it, especially for a child. You can write your name in it and keep it always. It transforms you into the kind of person who owns books, a member of the club, as well as part of a family that has them around the house. You're no longer just a visitor to the realm of the written word: You've got a passport.
Meanwhile, another study has shown that the children of lesbian couples do better than average in schools.

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