Monday, May 31, 2010

The Impact of Books in the Home

Having books in a home has a significant impact on the education level children will achieve, even where their parents have only a minimal education, according to a 20 year study led by Mariah Evans of the University of Nevada, Reno.

Researchers have long been aware of the correlation between the educational level of parents and the level of academic achievement of children. Professor Evans, a sociologist, looked at families in the United States and China (as part of a larger study) with a view towards finding inexpensive ways to help boost the achievement of children from families where parents had less education and where the family income made substantial expenditures on educational enrichment impractical. Although the study found the greatest impact of a book filled home occurred where there were 500 or more books in a home, the study also found that any number of books had some impact on the children in the home. The greatest impact was seen in China, where a 500 book library boosted achievement by 6.6 years. In the US, the boost in achievement was 2.4 years, and the average in the 27 countries included in the study was 3.2 years.

According to a report in Science Daily, Professor Evans noted, "Even a little bit goes a long way," in terms of the number of books in a home. Having as few as 20 books in the home still has a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education, and the more books you add, the greater the benefit..."You get a lot of 'bang for your book'," she said. "It's quite a good return-on-investment in a time of scarce resources."

What this will all mean in the age of the Kindle and other electronic readers remains to be seen. But in the meantime, we are pleased to see our belief in the importance of books in the lives of children to be validated by scientific study.

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