Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Books At Home Push Kids Toward More Schooling

Have books, will study. :)

From The Washington Post, Books At Home Push Kids Toward More Schooling. An excerpt:

The study, "Scholarly Culture and Educational Success in 27 Nations," by four researchers in the United States and Australia, is worth reading by those in the Washington area, where the number of books varies so much from family to family, and not necessarily because some parents are well-educated and others aren't. The study, based on 20 years of research, suggests that children who have 500 or more books in the home get, on average, 3.2 years more schooling than children in bookless homes. Even just 20 books makes a difference. The availability of reading material has a strong impact on a child's education, even when controlling for the effects of parental education, father's occupation, gender, nationality, political system and gross national product.

Linda's parents purchased the Encyclopedia Americana when she was in intermediate school. They added copies of Reader's Digest condensed books, a favorite of her mother's. Linda devoured those volumes, along with untold numbers of books from her weekly trips to the library.

In other words, like many successful people in this area, she grew up in a book culture established by a family that could not afford many extras but made reading a priority.

The new study led by Mariah Evans of the University of Nevada, Reno, in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, shows the influence of home libraries on schooling is found nearly everywhere, and it has more power than I expected.

Anyone who has studied the effects of home on learning knows that books are important. The summer learning loss suffered by inner-city children is at least in part the result of them not being encouraged to read, studies suggest. I had associated book reading with affluent parents, because high family income also correlates with school success. But the international study found there was more to it than that.

Even the children of poor, illiterate parents in China, the study shows, on average attained the same academic level as the children of college graduates, if they had opportunities to read. Chinese children who had 500 or more books at home got 6.6 years more schooling than Chinese children without books, the study shows. "Having books in the home has a greater impact on children from the least educated families," it says.

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