Merely having books in the home seems to have more impact on a child’s educational attainment than the education level of the parents, the country’s GDP, the father’s occupation or the political system of the country, according to a new study from the University of Nevada, Reno published in Research in Social Stratification and Mobility.
“For years, educators have thought the strongest predictor of attaining high levels of education was having parents who were highly educated. But, strikingly, this massive study showed that the difference between being raised in a bookless home compared to being raised in a home with a 500-book library has as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate (3 years of education) compared to having parents who have a university education (15 or 16 years of education). Both factors, having a 500-book library or having university-educated parents, propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average.”
The study suggests that “getting some books into their homes is an inexpensive way that we can help children succeed,” says Mariah Evans, the study’s principal author. Having as few as 20 books in the home has a significant impact and “the more books you add, the greater the benefit….You get a lot of ‘bang for your book,” she notes