Books make you smarter
I have just read an article in a British newspaper (The Guardian) about the effects of having books in the home, as children are growing up. The studies quoted are impressive – and they refer to real books, not e-books or other things on screens. Their research data from 160,000 adults in 31 countries having a big-enough home library gave teen high-school graduates skills equivalent to university graduates who didn’t read a lot in their youth. You need at least 80 books for this “to be effective”, and the average in Britain is 143 books. Canada?
This report claimed that the presence of books – the stimulus hard-copy books represent – gives kids a real advantage over those from families which had no books or only screen-time. The effects were seen on literacy skills -- plus skills in mathematics, say for future engineers. This effect was obvious in the stats even for teens who only did average in their high school careers – having the books around in their growing-up gave them a real boost in university and post-education careers.
Several of the scientists’ conclusions which struck me were that even in low-income families the presence of books gave their kids an advantage over middle class kids who read very little. The study also showed that “reading” is not a passive activity and stimulates measurable brain activity. As a life-long reader, dismayed by the lack of reading skills I see around me, this study is wonderful news. I wish it was better known (hint, hint).
Joy Stabler, Aylmer