A new study found that the size of your home library could have a lasting impact on your kids' proficiencies as adults. It boosts literacy levels, how well they can use math and their ability to use digital technology.

The study all started with this question: At age 16, how many books did you have at home?

Researchers asked 160,000 adults in 31 countries this question, then measured how competent they were across three key areas. Those who said their home had a lot of books had higher competencies not only in literacy, but also higher proficiencies in everyday mathematical concepts and digital technology. Literacy levels began climbing with 80 books, with gains up to 350 books.

The benefits of growing up in a book-filled home may seem somewhat obvious. We all know reading is good for your brain. But by testing the participants' proficiencies as adults, the researchers could see if being around books as kids had a lasting impact.

Quantity really does matter

Here's the kicker: University-educated individuals who grew up with fewer books had the same literacy proficiency as those who never went to university, but had a lot of books at home. For literacy, being raised in a book-filled home could matter more than where you go to college -- and even if you go to college.

The formative years are so important, and books are key. "Growing up with home libraries boosts adult skills in these areas beyond the benefits accrued from parental education or own educational or occupational attainment," the authors wrote of their work, which was published in the journal Social Science Research.

Of course, simply having a bunch of books around isn't a magic bullet to your kids' success. Parents build home libraries are most certainly the types who read a lot themselves. And, in turn, they read to their kids.

"Early exposure to books in [the] parental home matters because books are an integral part of routines and practices that enhance lifelong cognitive competencies," the study's lead author Joanna Sikora told The Guardian.

Published on: Oct 23, 2018