As I’ve said many times here, I’m a firm believer in reading books with and to kids, even once kids can read themselves. In our family, we particularly love having family books–books that we all read and remember and become part of our family “story.”
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman had a great column over the weekend essentially agreeing with me. (Not that Friedman reads me often, but you know what I mean). My husband helpfully shared the column with me, and our discussion helped shaped my thoughts here. I sometimes forget what a great source of both information and analysis he is, so allow me to give him a quick and well-deserved shout-out here.
Friedman refers to an international study that (every 3 years) tests 15-year-olds, and finds that young people whose parents read to them when they were young do much better on reading comprehension and problem-solving than those who do not have that benefit. The study also shows the more parents are involved in their children’s lives, asking about schoolwork, talking with them about politics and news, in addition to the reading, also raised scores.
Now, I don’t continue to read to our children (all strong readers by now), and we don’t have family favorite “books,” just so that our kids will out-perform their peers when they take tests. But I do love that giving kids this heritage of great books makes them better able to comprehend the world and be better at problem-solving. Essentially, Friedman is affirming the Catholic view that parents are the “primary and principal educators” of their children.
I’m beginning work on my December Catholic Post column, about books that would make good Christmas gifts. As it stands now, I’m recommending more kids’ books than grown-up books. I was starting to feel a little concerned about this until I read Friedman’s column.
What do you think about the study and what it means for parents and kids? You can read the full results of the international study here.