Growing up amid books = literacy

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John F
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Growing up amid books = literacy

Post by John F » Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:37 am

What a surprise! But then, people research the obvious in case it turns out not to be so. I guess. Somehow the books I grew up with and have now seem not to have improved my "numeracy."

Home Libraries Confer Long-Term Benefits
A large new study finds people who grew up in book-filled homes have higher reading, math, and technological skills.

Tom Jacobs
Oct 8, 2018

We've known for a while that home libraries are strongly linked to children's academic achievement. What's less certain is whether the benefits they bestow have a long-term impact. A new large-scale study, featuring data from 31 countries, reports they do indeed. It finds the advantages of growing up in a book-filled home can be measured well into adulthood.

"Adolescent exposure to books is an integral part of social practices that foster long-term cognitive competencies," writes a research team led by Joanna Sikora of Australian National University. These reading-driven abilities not only "facilitate educational and occupational attainment," the researchers write in the journal Social Science Research. "[They] also lay a foundation for lifelong routine activities that enhance literacy and numeracy."

The researchers analyzed data from the Programme for the International Assessment of Competencies. Its surveys, taken between 2011 and 2015, featured adults (ages 25 to 65) in 31 nations, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Singapore, and Turkey.

All participants were asked how many books there were in their home when they were 16 years old. (One meter of shelving, they were told, holds about 40 books.) They chose from a series of options ranging from "10 or less" to "more than 500."

Literacy was defined as "the ability to read effectively to participate in society and achieve personal goals." Participants took tests that "captured a range of basic through advanced comprehension skills, from reading brief texts for a single piece of information to synthesizing information from complex texts."

Numeracy tests measured the "ability to use mathematical concepts in everyday life," while IT-related tests "assessed the ability to use digital technology to communicate with others, as well as to gather, analyze, and synthesize information."

The results suggest those volumes made a long-term difference. "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," the researchers report.

Not surprisingly, the biggest impact was on reading ability. "The total effects of home library size on literacy are large everywhere," the researchers report. Growing up with few books in the house was associated with below-average literacy rates, while he presence of around 80 books raised those rates to the mean. Literacy continued to increase with the number of reported books up to around 350, at which point it flattened out. Similarly, the effects of a home library on numeracy were quite significant across the board. Its impact on technological skills was smaller but also widespread.

These results raise two interesting questions. First: Will findings like this fade as printed books become less-important sources of knowledge in the digital age? Perhaps, Sikora and her colleagues write, but for now, "the beneficial effects of home libraries in adolescence are large and hold in many different societies, with no sign of diminution over time. Moreover, home library size is positively related to higher levels of digital literacy."

The second, broader question is: Precisely how does growing up around books produce more highly skilled adults? More research will be needed to find out, but Sikora and her colleagues note that "children emulate parents who read," and, in such an environment, acquiring knowledge via the written word often becomes a pleasurable pastime. "Scholarly culture is a way of life," they conclude.

Clearly, that pattern of behavior gets established early. Spend time as a teen pulling books off a shelf, and the resultant benefits will have a very long shelf life.

https://psmag.com/education/home-librar ... m-benefits
John Francis

jbuck919
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Re: Growing up amid books = literacy

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:27 am

Interesting research, and I am not one to use single examples to contradict statistics. However, though I flatter myself that I am extremely literate and have demonstrated that here, my parents, though literate, had no concept of a home library. There was the odd book or two hanging around, but not much more. I bootstrapped myself to where I am, and the best I can do is thank my parents in memory for supporting it.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
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Re: Growing up amid books = literacy

Post by John F » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:53 am

"Adolescent exposure to books is an integral part of social practices that foster long-term cognitive competencies," says the story. In a home with books, that emcounter can be daily and casual; one doesn't have to go to a library, or return what one is reading when finished or when time runs out. But obviously one can become literate, or more literate, by using a public library or school library if there is one. I doubt there were many books in the home where Shakespeare grew up. :)

I can trace some of my own tastes in reading to my parents and the books they got and kept around the house - detective stories, for example, and Ogden Nash. And also the children's books they got for my brother and me. I know nothing of what my father's family had for reading matter, but after my mother's mother died and we were clearing out her house, I came across "The Wizard of Oz" and a half dozen sequels which can only have been for my mother. (I gave them to my niece when her first daughter was born.)
John Francis

jserraglio
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Re: Growing up amid books = literacy

Post by jserraglio » Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:31 am

Home library? In my dreams. I would've settled for one book.

Belle
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Re: Growing up amid books = literacy

Post by Belle » Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:14 am

jserraglio wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:31 am
Home library? In my dreams. I would've settled for one book.
We didn't have a 'home library' either when I was growing up, but the sister after me (there are 4 of us) always seemed to have a book - presumably it came from school - and she is still very gifted at writing poetry. My father read engineering books and journals and he was also a fan of socio-cultural books. This was one of his favourites and he quoted its author very often:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Socia ... 1970_book)

Little in the way of fiction for my father, but my mother read loads of fiction which presumably came courtesy of the local library. Only in my early married life did I notice my parents had built a special bookcase in their new home on one entire wall to cover fiction and non-fiction - and that there were a lot of books. Go figure. Plenty of classical 33rpm recordings right from the beginning, though. On my father's deathbed in 2004 I read him "The Reagan Letters" which had been published in 'Time' magazine. In his enfeebled state he said to me, "people said Reagan wasn't bright; clearly that was wrong".

Our early experiences of reading, music, radio and television are so evocative; Gardner McKay in "Aaaddddventures in Paradise"!! How well and fondly I remember the "Mickey Mouse Club" and, on 78rpm, Bing Crosby "Would You Like to Swing on a Star"? That thick, brass needle jumped up and down on those well-worn records to engrave memories on my brain of so happy and innocent a time that I become emotional reminiscing. How long ago it all seems. I feel sorry for children today, shoved into daycare ('early learning' is the new euphemism) without loads of unstructured play and down time. Nobody had anything when I was growing up but complaints were few and far between. (Now I'm sounding like "The Four Yorkshiremen"!)

John F
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Re: Growing up amid books = literacy

Post by John F » Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:30 am

My father had a library in his study - he was a college professor of English - and another in his office at the college. I looked around when a kid, of course, but never found anything I wanted to read. Otherwise we had no particular space that we thought of as a "library," just a couple of bookcases here and there with a haphazard assortment of books bought mainly for recreational reading. (My brother and I had no bookcase in our bedroom.)

Every year at Christmas I give my great-nieces a book each, in addition to something else. Their parents have read to them until they were old and literate enough to read for themselves. We are definitely middle class and well educated, and reading comes naturally to us. But I can well imagine that many, many American homes are as book-barren as jserraglio says his was. Yet here he is, reading and writing with no apparent effort, if anything somewhat better than I do. (You wouldn't believe the amount of revision I do before posting and sometimes after.) Well, that's what school is for, or supposed to be.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: Growing up amid books = literacy

Post by Belle » Wed Oct 17, 2018 3:37 am

It's so interesting learning about the stories of other people!! And you've really tapped into something essential; despite a dearth of books in early years people can mature into excellent writers, speakers and thinkers. I think we'd have to draw the conclusion that reading is a very big advantage to young children going through the school system, helping them to become confident with language, developing concentration skills and becoming more articulate. But it isn't the end of the story and I find that fascinating. I didn't read much as a teenager but I was very articulate and endowed with a photographic memory. I was also able to write imaginately and my best subject was English. Somehow this seemed unfair given that many peers read assiduously to develop their skills and I did not. This was always enigmatic to me.

My photographic memory enables great chunks of poetry, drama and prose to be summoned at will. Mother was that way with the piano and I'm sure this aided her success in that instrument. My students at school were always amazed by how I could snatch a relevant quote out of the air from some book or other source and use it to great effect in the classroom. Nobody was more surprised than I about having such a skill!!

I totally get what you're saying about editing one's own writing; yes. Perhaps this is part of a perfectionist mindset. And I agree with you about jserraglio - clearly a gifted writer!!

John F
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Re: Growing up amid books = literacy

Post by John F » Wed Oct 17, 2018 5:54 am

At one point I was paid for editing other people's writing, as a college textbook editor at W.W. Norton and St. Martin's Press. That and my previous major in English made me alert and picky about usage and style. I share that with jbuck919 - we used to "correct" each other here, but mercifully no longer. :)
John Francis

jbuck919
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Re: Growing up amid books = literacy

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:41 am

I said one or two books, but one of them was a rather elegant edition of the Bible, which came with a glossary. I suppose no one else here knows that excardination means allowing a priest to exercise his faculties in another diocese.

Sir, he hath never fed of the dainties that are bred
in a book; he hath not eat paper, as it were; he
hath not drunk ink: his intellect is not
replenished; he is only an animal, only sensible in
the duller parts:
And such barren plants are set before us, that we
thankful should be,
Which we of taste and feeling are, for those parts that
do fructify in us more than he.
For as it would ill become me to be vain, indiscreet, or a fool,
So were there a patch set on learning, to see him in a school:
But omne bene, say I; being of an old father's mind, 31
Many can brook the weather that love not the wind.

--Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Belle
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Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 10:45 am

Re: Growing up amid books = literacy

Post by Belle » Wed Oct 17, 2018 3:11 pm

An absolutely magnificent quote! I hadn't read it before. I wonder what he would have written today about the internet and kindles?

jserraglio
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Re: Growing up amid books = literacy

Post by jserraglio » Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:26 pm

John F wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:30 am
Yet here he is, reading and writing with no apparent effort, if anything somewhat better than I do. (You wouldn't believe the amount of revision I do before posting and sometimes after.).
I wish that were the case. In fact, I was illiterate until well on into second grade (promoted to that exalted rank solely b/c my first-grade teacher bucked a principal who wanted the rules followed and me held back). To this day I read laboriously and, borderline dyslexic, have to revise even short CMG messages on the fly or often repeatedly after I post them.

I reckon the experience of having my young life set on a positive trajectory by one important teacher who put her hunch about a kid ahead of protocol is why I esteem early-childhood educators above even university professors. If I had my way, those underwriters of primary language acquisition and early socialization would be the most cherished, highly trained and highly paid of all civil servants. Society would recoup many times over whatever was spent on them.

jserraglio
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Re: Growing up amid books = literacy

Post by jserraglio » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:03 pm

Belle wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 3:11 pm
An absolutely magnificent quote! I hadn't read it before. I wonder what he [Shakespeare] would have written today about the internet and kindles?
He might derisively have called them "newfangled" — and that would have been sorta newfangled of him — this word was relatively new when he used it in Sonnet 91, again in Love's Labour's Lost and later in As You Like It:

Biron
Why should I joy in any abortive birth?
At Christmas I no more desire a rose
Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled mirth; 110
But like of each thing that in season grows.
So you, to study now it is too late,
Climb o'er the house to unlock the little gate.
LLL I, i.

Rosalind:
Say 'a day' without the 'ever.'
No, no, Orlando; Men are April when they woo,
December when they wed: maids are May when they are maids,
but the sky changes when they are wives.
I will be more jealous of thee than a Barbary rooster-pigeon
over his hen, more clamorous than a parrot against rain,
more new-fangled than an ape, 1119
more giddy in my desires than a monkey. I will weep for
nothing, like Diana in the fountain, and I will do that when you
are dispos'd to be merry; I will laugh like a hyena, and that when
thou are inclin'd to sleep. AYLI IV, i.

Belle
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Re: Growing up amid books = literacy

Post by Belle » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:56 pm

Gold. Absolutely love it!!

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