Growing Up Surrounded by Books Increases Adult Literacy

How many books are in your home? A study found that immersing children in book-oriented environments benefits their later educational achievement, attainment, and occupational standing. Do your children have access to plenty of books at home?

The study is titled: “Scholarly culture: How books in adolescence enhance adult literacy, numeracy and technology skills in 31 societies.” It was published in Social Science Research. It was led by Joanna Sikora of the Australian National University.

The findings of the study indicate that the size of a home library equips youth with life-long tastes, skills, and knowledge. Whey these youths grow up to be adults, they have the advantage of adult literacy, adult numeracy, and adult technological problem solving.

The study assessed data from 160,000 adults from 31 countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Turkey, Japan and Chile. Participants ranged in age from 25 to 65. They were asked to estimate how many books were in their house when they were 16 years old. The surveys were taken between 2011 and 2015.

The average number of books in the participant’s childhood homes was 115. It varied by country. The average library size in Norway was 212 books; while the average library in Turkey was 27. The more books in the home was linked to higher proficiency in the areas tested by the survey.

Growing up with few books in the home resulted in below average literacy levels. Being surrounded by 80 books boosted the levels to average. Literacy continued to improve until libraries reached about 350 books. At that point, the literacy rates leveled off.

One thing parents can do is make sure that there are plenty of books in their home that their kids can read. It is also good for parents to read to their children. The researchers noted that children emulate parents who read.

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