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HOME LIBRARIES CONFER LONG-TERM BENEFITS

A large new study finds people who grew up in book-filled homes have higher reading, math, and technological skills.
 

We've known for a while that home libraries are strongly linked to children's academic achievement. What's less certain is whether the benefits they bestow have a long-term impact.

A new large-scale study, featuring data from 31 countries, reports they do indeed. It finds the advantages of growing up in a book-filled home can be measured well into adulthood.

"Adolescent exposure to books is an integral part of social practices that foster long-term cognitive competencies," writes a research team led by Joanna Sikora of Australian National University.

 

These reading-driven abilities not only "facilitate educational and occupational attainment," the researchers write in the journal Social Science Research. "[They] also lay a foundation for lifelong routine activities that enhance literacy and numeracy."

The researchers analyzed data from the Programme for the International Assessment of Competencies. Its surveys, taken between 2011 and 2015, featured adults (ages 25 to 65) in 31 nations, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Singapore, and Turkey.

...

The second, broader question is: Precisely how does growing up around books produce more highly skilled adults? More research will be needed to find out, but Sikora and her colleagues note that "children emulate parents who read," and, in such an environment, acquiring knowledge via the written word often becomes a pleasurable pastime.

"Scholarly culture is a way of life," they conclude. Clearly, that pattern of behavior gets established early. Spend time as a teen pulling books off a shelf, and the resultant benefits will have a very long shelf life.

 

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