When it comes to your children, the books in your house matter more than your education or income
A study recently published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility found that just having books around the house (the more, the better) is correlated with how many years of schooling a child will complete. Moreover, another study, to be published later this year in the journal Reading Psychology, found that simply giving low-income children 12 books (of their own choosing) on the first day of summer vacation “may be as effective as summer school” in preventing “summer slide” — the degree to which lower-income students slip behind their more affluent peers academically every year.
“We find that books in the home have a positive payoff in improved test scores throughout the world,” writes a research team led by University of Nevada Reno sociologist Mariah Evans. “The relationship is strong, clear, and statistically significant in every one of the 42 nations (we studied).” Evans made this same point in a 2010 study, which found “home library size has a very substantial effect on educational attainment.”
Her new research confirms that conclusion using data from even a larger number of nations—42, rather than the 27 in the earlier report. It also rebuts critics who contend that having books in the home “merely signals children’s elite status to gatekeepers, who then grant them unjust advantages.”