Those of us who surround ourselves with books have always known that it makes us happy, though we probably have never really stopped to think about why. In fact, new research reported in Pacific Standard says that buying loads of books is totally justified because growing up around lots of books makes us better humans.
If your childhood home was filled with volumes and bookshelves, you’ll tend to have a higher reading comprehension and better mathematical and digital communication skills.
The findings are based on surveys taken between 2011 and 2015 by the Programme for the International Assessment of Competencies, with respondents between the ages of 25 and 65. They lived in 31 different countries and were asked to estimate how many books they’d had at home when they were 16, then were tested for reading comprehension, their understanding of common mathematical concepts, and their ability to communicate using digital technology.
The results showed a positive correlation between these skill sets and having books at home.
The resulting paper, published in Social Science Research, goes into the details:
“Growing up with home libraries boosts adult skills in these areas beyond the benefits accrued from parental education, or one’s own educational or occupational attainment.”
A 20-year-study from 2010 backs up the findings, suggesting that access to a home library impacts a child’s educational attainment just as much as their parents’ occupations and education levels.
The magic number for the latter’s making an impact seems to be at least – families that owned fewer than 80 books had children with below-average literacy.
Not only that but reading comprehension and other literacy skills continue to rise up to about 350 books, at which point the rate evens out. The jury is still out on whether e-books will have the same positive effects as surrounding oneself with printed volumes.
So, go crazy, book lovers! And show this study to anyone who tries to tell you to slow down.