Print (yes, paper!) Matters

pileof booksAs the world continues its march toward all things digital, take a moment to reflect on what we might be losing. Without the newspaper rustling as it’s refolded at the breakfast table, kids can just focus on their devices. Without shelves of books in a house, kids don’t have the chance to browse and pick a book at random. Without a dog-eared paperback, what will transport us back to that summer beach read?

Does any of this really matter? The loss of print books and periodicals can have significant repercussions on children’s intellectual development. According to the New York Times:

In a 2014 study published in the sociology journal Social Forces researchers measured the impact of the size of home libraries on the reading level of 15-year-old students across 42 nations, controlling for wealth, parents’ education and occupations, gender and the country’s gross national product. After G.N.P., the quantity of books in one’s home was the most important predictor of reading performance. Owning books in the home is one of the best things you can do for your children academically.

Sure, some families can replace paper literature — news, books, magazines — with digital media. But what of those who can’t afford electronic readers? So many factors influence child development. Maybe dusty bookshelves are a good thing after all.