New research has finally proven what we’ve long suspected to true: that people who grow up around books reap the intellectual benefits well into adulthood.
The large-scale study featuring data from 31 countries—including the U.S. and Canada—found that people who grow up with home libraries tend to have higher reading comprehension and better mathematical skills as adults.
And according to a team of researchers led by Australian National University senior sociology lecturer Joanna Sikora, the magic number of books is 80. Pacific Standard reports that participants who had around 80 books at home tended to have average scores for literacy, while those who grew up in homes with fewer than 80 books tended to have below-average literacy. Literacy improves until the number of books reached 350, after which point it didn’t seem to matter.
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The impact of library size on mathematical skills was similarly significant. Researchers also noted that these widespread intellectual benefits had nothing to do with education.
“Growing up with home libraries boosts adult skills in these areas beyond the benefits accrued from parental education or own educational or occupational attainment,” explained in the study which was published in Social Science Research.
As for how exactly growing up around books makes for smarter adults, scientists admit that more research is needed. But Sikora and her team did note that "children emulate parents who read,” concluding "scholarly culture is a way of life.”