Reading As Birth Control?
A six year study in Philadelphia following 12,339 seventh grade girls in the public school system found an inverse relationship between reading skills and the risk of teen pregnancy. Researchers looked at the girls’ reading tests scores and found that 21 percent of the girls who scored below average gave birth as teens compared to 12 percent and 5 percent of those with average and above average scores, respectively. Latino and Black girls were more likely to get pregnant as well as those living in poverty. Once these factors were accounted for, girls with below average reading scores were 2.5 more times likely to get pregnant. Teen pregnancy is a concern because pregnant teens and their babies often have more health issues and teen moms are more likely to drop out of high school.
Regardless of Parents’ Intellect
"Perhaps families with more books are more likely to emphasize education? It may have nothing to do with the books at all."
- Robert in the comments
One of the strongest predictors of attaining higher education is having books in the home, according to sociologist Maria Evans, U of Nevada, who led a 20-year study to learn what helps children succeed. Evans found that it wasn’t necessarily parents’ levels of education that predict academic success. Books in the homes of even the barely literate were found to further a child’s education by an average of 3.2 years. In fact, children of parents with less education had more to gain by having books in their homes. Findings indicate that the more books in the home, the greater the gain, but even as few as 20 books can go a long way towards helping a child succeed academically. "You get a lot of 'bang for your book'," says Evans of this relatively inexpensive way to boost a child’s education.