The Secret to a Child’s Academic Success: A Home Library

13 Apr

The shelves in my office are overflowing with so many books that I’ve started hiding them other places around the house (the bathroom closest now has a complete set of the Harvard Classics).

My wife can’t understand why I need to keep buying even more books (and she doesn’t even know about the bathroom library yet) but now I have an excuse to justify my bibliophilism: The more books I have the better our kid will do in school.

After examining statistics from 27 nations, a group of researchers found the presence of book-lined shelves in the home — and the intellectual environment those volumes reflect — gives children an enormous advantage in school.

“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. “Growing up in a home with 500 books would propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average, than would growing up in a similar home with few or no books.

“This is a large effect, both absolutely and in comparison with other influences on education,” adds the research team, led by University of Nevada sociologist M.D.R. Evans. “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.”

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.

By the way, if you talk to my wife, please don’t mention that whole “correlation doesn’t equal causation” thing to her.

(Via: Neatorama)