You probably know that books are important for a child’s education. What you probably don’t realize is exactly how important they are. A massive two-decade study found that just having a book in the home can have as big of an impact on your kid’s academic future as your own level of education.
For ages, education experts have believed that the most important factor in how much education a child goes on to attain is how educated that child’s parents are. Not so, according to a 20-year study of 27 different nations by researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno. Professor Mariah Evans and her team studied children and families of all backgrounds and education levels, and what they found was striking: having books in the home is as important as how educated parents are when it comes to a child’s educational attainment.
The difference between being raised in a home without any books and being raised in a home with 500 books has as much of an impact as the difference between having parents with three years of education and having parents with 15 years of education. Even if a child is raised by barely literate parents, growing up in a home with a 500-book library can lead that child to complete 3.2 more years of schooling, on average.
Five hundred books may sound like a lot, but a child doesn’t even need that many to get the benefit—even having as few as 20 books around the house can significantly impact your child’s future education.
That’s important since critics of the idea have said that it’s not the books that create the academic achievers, but the wealthier households who can afford the books that do. Not so, say the researchers. They note that books “especially benefit children from disadvantaged families.”
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