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The Secret to Academic Success: Home Library

Remember our recent post about the success of bribing kids to learn? (tldr: kids bribed to read books scored the most improvement)

Here's another study linking the importance of reading books (technically, book collection - but I suppose the two typically go hand in hand) to academic success:

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.”

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I remember one assignment where we were to count all the books in our houses and the teacher was not happy with my result. I think they were looking for us all to say zero-three books or something and my parents had like 700. Grew up in a factory town, both parents high school drop-outs with GEDs. My mom has a new book to read almost every week but my dad rarely reads. We weren't well-off at all. I did well in school and knew a lot of stuff before they lectured us in school. All those books just sitting around, I'd grab them at random. I could actually read before I even started school.

And as I have a child now I'm totally taking this as an excuse to buy whatever books I want.
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TFT

"Seems that any home with a 500 book library would not need statistical correction for educational attainment of parents. The 500 books pretty much indicate a home inclined to view education positively."

That is exactly why these homes DO need statistical correction for parental educational attainment
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Well, at our house it got to the point that I had to rig up a barcode scanner and make up a database of all our books using Library Thing. I then had to print out Dewey Decimal labels for the books, and we re-shelved them all. Over 2k books that could be easily cataloged, and a bunch of duplicate volumes from when we couldn't locate a book at some time, and bought a replacement.

I agree with some of the other contributors that a pile of books is probably an indicator of family priorities, which are picked up by the children.
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