Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Books in the House Benefit Children, Study Shows

Nurse Reading to a Little Girl, Mary Cassatt, 1895

A fascinating international study shows that children who grow up in homes that have home libraries are much more likely to do well in school. The study encompassed 27 countries. “Home library size has a very substantial effect on educational attainment, even adjusting for parents’ education, father’s occupational status and other family background characteristics,” reports the study, recently published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility. “A child from a family rich in books is 19 percentage points more likely to complete university than a comparable child growing up without a home library.”

As noted by a report on the study by Tom Jacobs: "This effect holds true regardless of a nation’s wealth, culture or political system, but its intensity varies from country to country. In China, a child whose parents own 500 books will average 6.6 more years of education than a comparable child from a bookless home. In the U.S., the figure is 2.4 years — which is still highly significant when you consider it’s the difference between two years of college and a full four-year degree."

This research relates somewhat to my hunch that the higher the quality of books a child reads the more productive they may be in later life.

You can read the abstract of the home library study here, and I first learned about it here.


bookssnob said...

This is a really interesting study! I grew up in a house with practically no books - my parents weren't big readers - and I left school with the highest grades in my class! However my mum did encourage library usage and I went to the library at least once a week as a child to get new books. I think part of the reason we had no books in the house was because my mum hates clutter and also we used the library. My mum shudders at my book collection now - so much to dust! But maybe they will benefit my children's academic attainment - I'll have to tell her that!

Anonymous said...

My love of books, resulted in having a home library. My children used this resource up through high school, and two used it once for college. Five of the six children are adults. They all graduated university. The careers they chose are optometrist, teacher, food science, nurse, and accountant. The youngest starts college next year. I wasn't unusual for one member of the family to discuss a book they were reading at the dinner table. Books are still discussed and sometimes passed around.

Playing musical instruments also contribute to academic and career achievement.

Christina said...

I am pleased but not surprised by the results of this study. The new Kindle gadget and Books on Tape may have extended our ability to be entertained by the "written" word under different circumstances, but there is nothing as satisfying as browsing through a shelf of books, choosing one, and settling in for a quiet afternoon of reading. This is how I spent many happy summers as a child--since there was no TV (or computer) in the house. I am thankful to my parents that there was a whole world on the bookshelf for me to roam around in.

Carla Gade said...

This is so true. I work for an adult literacy organization. Of families with illiterate parents there are obviously few books and it does have a serious impact on the literacy of the child. Interesting post.