First of all, let me take something off my chest.
|Rates of return to human capital investment |
in disadvantaged children.
Credit: Science Magazine / Heckman
I adore libraries.
Public book rooms, school libraries, university libraries, community book collections....
You name it - I love it!
Love, love, love!
Libraries changed my life.
They helped to forge the person I am today.
However, all these aforesaid libraries are not enough.
One also needs a home library for kids.
Isn't that too strong a word?
Well, for me that is like saying potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto...
We needed one.
We wanted one.
When it comes to home libraries, size does not matter.
It is the thought and effort behind one that count.
Quality trumps quantity if you are creating a home library of children's books.
I know - investment in a home library of children's books might seem a large expense.
And it is.
But only if you look at one face of the god Janus.
If you remember, the Roman god Janus was frequently represented by a double-faced head.
One looking towards the past, one looking into the future.
The real issue with an investment in a home library for our kids is where do we want to look.
Do we want to look at the past and the cost of adding a book to our kid's library?
Or do we want to look into the future.
I think we should look at both.
We mustn't forget the future.
Children's books are yeast that ensures the "dough" in our kids holds together and it helps a strong personality rise out from a child's body.
Without yeast, we just get a flat, dense bread.
There are many different types of children's books that kids need as they grow older.
Who can offer everything?
Starting from board books, then through picture books, chapter books, illustrated books, fun books, books to learn how to read, activity books, non-fiction books, science books, history books, popular books, comic books, hobby books, art books, music books, book series, book sets, geography books, encyclopedias ...
The more I think about it, the more types of books a home library of children's books can include.
I know it seems a game that never ends.
And it is.
Yet, we in our home are not rich, far from it.
I didn't care.
There was no way I could let my kids grow up without a home library that is available to them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If there is any implicit slogan that a home library can carry - it is "We are open 24/7".
Today, many libraries are doing their best to expand the range of services that they offer - even offering 24/7 service.
But a home library does that every day.
It is an amazing creature - the home library.
One minute a child is bored, the next minute the child is sitting with a book - reading.
It is literally THERE.
There are hundreds of mini-moments during the day and dozens of longer moments when kids do not know what to do.
The home library is there to invite them, to entice them.
Is it an expense?
But the question I want you to ask yourself is:
Is it just an expense?
Today, all we can hear around us is talk about investment this, investment that... interest rates, portfolios, 401K plans, IRAs, hedge funds, index funds, shareholding, commodities, gold, .....
But - think about it - what is really the best investment plan for your child's future?
Compound interest ... the power of magic
Nothing you do for a child is ever wasted
I am not an investment banker, but a couple of seconds of Googling helped me find the formula for compound interest on an investment.
Compound interest is a powerful tool.
Compound interest generates strong returns - especially if the interest rate is high and the period of compounding is long.
In fact, they say that the most powerful investments have compounded returns. Compound interest is so strong that it can almost seem like magic - in the right environment.
The formula for compound interest is:
Where am I going with this?
Well, we all trust theories and rules - often because there is a formula that demonstrates the rule.
We do not even go into the proof behind it, into the backup research.
We trust formulas.
My point is that just because a formula explaining the positive benefits of early access to home libraries has not yet been discovered - it does not mean that there is not something important going on there.
I am not waiting until the exact mathematical nature of the link between children's books and success in life is proven in the form of a scientific equation.
I do not need to wait.
I think we should all behave as if the compound interest on an investment in children's books is a given.
If you need a formula to convince you, well here is one that I conjured out of the air for you.
The formula for compound interest on investments in home libraries for kids is:
Even though it is an invented equation, I wouldn't be surprised if it is close to the truth.
So, don't wait.
Make a leap into the known.
Start preparing the best investment plan for your child's future.
Early childhood care and education is the primary responsibility of parents, so parents have to step up to the task.
However, later childhood care and education is also the primary responsibility of parents.
Every time I see my son or daughter excited about a book they own and when they call me to show me something in the book - a little voice inside me whispers to me: "Can you imagine what their lives would be without that book?"
Would that large smile on his or her face still be as large?
Well, yes, it probably would.
But their eyes wouldn't twinkle the way they do when they immerse themselves in a book they love.
Books light up a child from the inside.
The books they read and re-read are now integral parts of their personalities.
The books are part of them.
They are intertwined.