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How to Grow Up In A House Full of Books Improves Literacy and Numeracy


Growing up in a house full of books is a big boost for literacy and numeracy, according to research from more than 160,000 adults in 31 different countries.

It is not the first time that science endorses the multiple benefits of reading, from the increase of vocabulary to the increase of empathy, the reduction of anxiety and stress, improve the ability to learn languages ​​or boost decision making. Recently, an investigation by the National University of Australia concluded that having a large home library provided young people who left school with skills equivalent to college graduates who did not read. To be effective, the home library must have about 80 copies.

Under the direction of Dr. Joanna Sikora, academics analyzed data from more than 160,000 adults, from 31 different countries, who participated in the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies between 2011 and 2015. All participants were asked how many books there were in their homes when they were 16 years old - a full bookcase meter is equivalent to about 40 books - and they were tested for literacy, arithmetic and information communication technology (ICT) to assess their abilities.


While the average number of books in a domestic library differed from one country to another - from 27 in Turkey to 143 in the United Kingdom and 218 in Estonia - "the total effects of library size on literacy are large in all parties ", as determined by their authors. Thus, it is known with certainty that exposing adolescents to books is an integral part of social practices that foster long-term cognitive skills.

In contrast, the researchers found that adolescents in a home without almost books had levels of literacy and arithmetic below average. Meanwhile, adolescents who barely passed secondary education or dropped out of school but who grew up in a house full of books proved to be as capable as those university graduates who grew up with only a few books.

"Early exposure to books in the family home is important because books are an integral part of routines and practices that improve cognitive skills for life," said the study's lead author. "In addition, the size of the library in the home is positively related to the highest levels of digital literacy, so the evidence suggests that, for some time, the commitment to the material objects of the academic culture in the homes of the parents, that is, books, will continue to provide significant benefits for adult ICT ", concludes the report, clarifying that the perception that the social practice of printed book consumption is past is premature in the face of current reality.