Books at home make kids smarter

I have a lot of books.  So many, in fact, that when people come to my home for the first time they usually say something along the lines of, “Wow, you have a lot of books.”

I don’t have kids, but I would like to think that if I did, they would grow up to love books as much as I do.  As it turns out, having a home library actually gives a statistical advantage to the educational success of children.  At least that is what a recently available study in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility is suggesting. The researchers looked at the presence of books in homes across 27 countries and determined that,

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.

Apparently, the presence of 500 books will give students an average boost of 3.2 years in education – which is of course the better part of an undergraduate degree.  Obviously, this boost is more effective in cultures where education is systemically lower, but the effect is present to a substantial degree even in affluent countries. And to top it all off, parents don’t actually have to be well educated themselves.  All that is necessary is for there to be a clear respect and enjoyment of books in the home.

I’m glad to see that my vast library will be of benefit to my offspring someday.  I just hope that the effect works without regard for the type of books in the library.  I would hate to think that my future children might be hindered academically because of the overwhelming presence of science fiction novels.  Then again, I think most would agree that there is far more to Robert A. Heinlein than just spaceships and time-travel.

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