Every Child Can Be a Powerball Winner (Pedcast)

Topic Introduction

Doc Smo here, your pedcast host. Thanks for joining me today for another edition of Portable Practical Pediatrics where we talk about all things kid. Have you noticed that America seems to have gone gaga over lotteries. We called this type of game gambling when I was young but somehow, it has become very mainstream and accepted in today’s world.  Personally, I think it is a backhanded way of preying on people’s weaknesses and funding what should be the responsibility of the taxpayer and paying with for it with a vice–that vice being gambling. But that is just my opinion. The the driving force behind the Powerball lottery and really all lotteries is the hope of it’s players for a quick way to financial security and a better life.  I get that but I think their thinking is all wrong. In today’s pedcast we are going to use the backdrop of the Powerball lottery to explore an alternative way that lottery players can become winners- guaranteed winners.  So sit back, open up your imagination and listen to my advice to Powerball players all over the country.

Musical Introduction

Some Facts About Money

In order to comprehend what I am going to suggest, we need to first look at some basic facts about the Powerball lottery.  First understand that Americans spend about $65 billion dollars a year on lottery tickets. That translates to the average family spending $630/year on lotteries. Yes, $65 billion dollars where their chance of winning is extremely remote; something in the order of 1 chance in 292 million. At some level, players of these lotteries must understand that means that for every person who wins, 291, 999,999 people will lose their money. To make matters worse,  a large percentage of these lottery players are really poor.  These must be very desperate people  or  people with money to burn! To make matters even worse, even for the very few players who end up winning, there is a good chance that not only will their families, friends and society prey on them because of their winnings, but they will more than likely end up ultimately in serious financial trouble.  Expensive to play,  an infinitesimal chance of winning, along with an often ugly end game makes me wonder why does anyone go for this. Because they want a better and easier life stupid!


Ok, that got me thinking. “What if there were a much easier way to make life better for a family, especially their children?”  “What if you could spend the same amount of money you would have on Powerball and have an almost surefire way to improve your children’s chance at a great life?”   In an ever increasing society falling into the haves and have nots, anything that we can do to make every child a winner of life’s lottery, we need to do.  Well, we already know how to do that! But first, a little more background information.

I think it is generally understood that the higher a child’s literacy level and academic level achieved, the higher their earning potential will be during their life. Early access to books, rich language, and reading is paramount to success in life for most children. Listen to what some  old and new research says about how the number of books in a child’s home effects their school performance;

Having Children Getting Access to Books is Vital for Their Success

“Access to Books Is the Key to Successful Reading Development.  Sixty-one percent of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children. While low-income children have, on average, four children’s books in their homes, a team of researchers concluded that nearly two-thirds of the low-income families they studied owned no books for their children (US Dept. of Education, 1996).”

“Children in low-income families lack essential one-on-one reading time. The average child growing up in a middle-class family has been exposed to 1,000 to 1,700 hours of one-on-one picture book reading. The average child growing up in a less economically stable family, in contrast, has only been exposed to 25 hours of one-on-one reading (McQuillan, 1998).”

“The most successful way to improve the reading achievement of low-income children is to increase their access to print. Communities ranking high in achievement tests have several factors in common: an abundance of books in public libraries, easy access to books in the community at large, and a large number of textbooks per student (Newman et al., 2000).”

“The only behavior measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home. An analysis of a national data set of nearly 100,000 United States school children found that access to printed materials—and not poverty—is the “critical variable affecting reading acquisition” (McQuillan, 1998).”


In the same mongraph, the authors site the following stats:

Average HS dropout lifetime earnings= $595,000

Average HS graduate lifetime earnings=$1,066,000

Average 2 year college graduate=1,509,000

That’s a million dollars difference between the high school dropout’s lifetime earnings and a child who achieves two years of college.  A million dollar winning for the child who is read to frequently and who has a rich library of books in their homes. Having a million dollars dropped on you is very much like winning a powerball lottery, isn’t it?  What if we could convince families who like to play lotteries, that instead of spending their $630/year on lottery tickets, that they buy books for their kids when they are young and read them aloud to them– over and over again.  Some quick calculations reveals that if a family spent their $630/year on new hardback children’s books for the first five years of their children’s life, they would amass a library of 174 books to enjoy. If they spent the same amount of money on new paperbacks, the total would be 484 books. Imagine if they bought used books!

So here is Doc Smo’s wish for America. give up on the risky bets America, and go with the sure thing–literacy. It may be fun, fantasizing about instant wealth but not only will it likely not happen, your $630/year could have been spent on a sure fire way to better your children’s future, a life of literacy.  Doc Smo pearl; “A young mind is like a new Ferrari, waiting to drive full throttle.”  Don’t waste that opportunity on Powerball.


As always, thanks for joining me. If you enjoy thinking and learning about pediatrics with pedcasts, take a moment to subscribe to my blog at www.docsmo.com or on iTunes. you can also follow me on Facebook, twitter, Linked in or Google +. And if you have stories or ideas of how to get more reading going on at young children, send your ideas to my blog. I will share them with tens of thousands of listeners. This is Doc Smo, in studio 1E, reminding you not to fret, reading to your kids is a sure bet. Until next time.




Smo notes:

–Powerball’s $1.5 Billion Swindle Of Americans     http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2016/01/11/3737974/powerball-lotteries/

–Odds Are $1.5 Billion Powerball Winner Will End Up Bankrupt


–The More Books at Home, The Higher the Childs Education –


–Cost of the average children’s book


–Excerpt from Teacher Scholastic.com  website entitled Access to books.


Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations