Home Libraries Enhance Numeracy and Literacy Skills Among Children


Children growing up in households that have home libraries with at least 80 books have greater levels of numeracy, communication technology skills (ICT) and literacy in adulthood. According to findings of a recent research paper, growing up in a pro-learning home can lead to lifelong learning and knowledge seeking attitude in the children.

The paper titled “Scholarly culture: How books in adolescence enhance adult literacy, numeracy and technology skills in 31 societies” by Joanna Sikora of Australian National University and his colleagues MDR Evans and Jonathan Kelley reveals home libraries can promote reading and math skills among children more than college itself.

The authors of the paper studied 160,000 adults between 2011 and 2015 with the aim of finding how books can help in enhancing adult literacy and play a pivotal role in developing numeracy, literacy and technology skills in various societies across the globe. Results of the study indicated that home libraries helped in boosting adult skills and had more benefits than parental education or even occupational achievements of an individual.

Results revealed the powerful effect of households where children around books ended up attaining higher education and “become as literate, numerate and technologically apt in adulthood as university graduates who grew up with only a few books”.

The study also found the greatest benefits in numeracy, ICT skills and literacy were achieved when a household had 80 to 350 books and no additional gains were seen above these figures. The number of books in library depended on where you lived. For instance, Scandinavian families had the biggest book collections among other countries of the world. Moreover, 14 percent Norwegians and 13 percent Swedes had 500+ books in their homes, while some countries including Greece, Turkey, Chile, Singapore and Italy had 80 books on average in their households.


The Impact Of Digital Media

Digital books are the new thing in town and their use is escalating among today’s technology-centric generation. The study revealed that the impact of digital media on book reading and stated: “For the time being, however, the perception that social practice of print book consumption is passé is premature.” The reason for this is that large digital libraries, for now at least, parallel large paper ones: “…home library size is positively related to higher levels of digital literacy so, the evidence suggests that for some time to come, engagement with material objects of scholarly culture in parental homes, i.e. books, will continue to confer significant benefits for adult ICT competencies.”

How Having A Library At Home Helps?

The study suggests the impact of having a library at home is double-fold. Firstly, growing up in a pro-learning social environment since “adolescent exposure to books is an integral part of social practices that foster long term cognitive competencies”. Secondly, reading helps in developing related skills among the readers. “These competencies facilitate educational and occupational attainment, but they also lay a foundation for life-long routine activities that enhance literacy and numeracy”, the study stated.


Cost Of 80 Books Much Less Than A Year Of Tuition

The study found that “university graduates who grew up with hardly any books around them had roughly average literacy levels”, which means having books in the household is indeed a very good investment and is equivalent to [having] additional years of education.

The findings of the study are heartening to families who are unable to send their children to educational institutes. Having an adequate amount of books in the household can assist children in developing reading and math skills even without the expense of post-secondary time in the classroom.

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