July 27, 2017

In defense of physical books: home “libraries matter even more than money”

In defense of physical books: home "libraries matter even more than money"I can’t tell you how often Abby (7 going on 14) has gone into our library/office to find a book to read (or how often Oz, 4, or Ann, 2, carries them around, pretending to read). We’re still accumulating our collection, but she’s never come away without a book or three. Usually, I’ve got to haul them back in piles of half a dozen to refile after they’ve piled up on her bedside table. I know she’ll be back for them, again, later.

She would never leaf through books if I kept them stored digitally on my iPad, waiting for me to read them at my leisure. She reads because we have books, hard cover and soft.

They are breadcrumbs on the path to knowledge that Brittany​ and I are leaving for them. From a piece in the New York Time:

“Perhaps the strongest case for a household full of print books came from a 2014 study published in the sociology journal Social Forces. Researchers measured the impact of the size of home libraries on the reading level of 15-year-old students across 42 nations, controlling for wealth, parents’ education and occupations, gender and the country’s gross national product.

“After G.N.P., the quantity of books in one’s home was the most important predictor of reading performance. The greatest effect was seen in libraries of about 100 books, which resulted in approximately 1.5 extra years of grade-level reading performance. (Diminishing returns kick in at about 500 books, which is the equivalent of about 2.2 extra years of education.)

“Libraries matter even more than money; in the United States, with the size of libraries being equal, students coming from the top 10 percent of wealthiest families performed at just one extra grade level over students from the poorest 10 percent.”

So, before you decide to save the space on your shelves by ditching the books, consider the impact on the next generation. When they look around for something to do, what will they find?

If you must still get rid of them, send me a message and I’ll arrange to pick them up from you. We’ll make room on our shelves.

About Daniel Burton

Daniel Burton lives in Salt Lake County, Utah, where he practices law by day and everything else by night. You can follow him on his blog PubliusOnline.com where he muses on politics, the law, books and ideas. He is active on social media, Republican politics, and has been named to PoliticIt’s list of the “Top-50 Utah Political Opinion Leaders” on Twitter. You can reach him directly at dan.burton@gmail.com

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