The number of books in your household has more of an effect on your child’s academic achievements than your education or income, a recently published study (pdf) has found.
Suggesting that the effects seem to be far from trivial, the conclusion indicates that simply the presence of books in their house can make children more intelligent.
Just having books around the house (the more, the better) is correlated with how many years of schooling a child will complete. The study […] found that growing up in a household with 500 or more books is “as great an advantage as having university-educated rather than unschooled parents, and twice the advantage of having a professional rather than an unskilled father.” Children with as few as 25 books in the family household completed on average two more years of schooling than children raised in homes without any books.
[Another study] found that simply giving low-income children 12 books (of their own choosing) on the first day of summer vacation “may be as effective as summer school” in preventing “summer slide” — the degree to which lower-income students slip behind their more affluent peers academically every year.
Upon reading this I had the same thought as Jonah Lehrer: “But what to do in a world of Kindles and iPads?”