Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Books Do Make a Difference

Came across this article from The Smithsonian about how if you had access to books in your home growing up, then you have an edge over those that didn't. Well, duh! Actually, it's a little more than that.
 The study, published recently in Social Science Research, assessed data from 160,000 adults from 31 countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Turkey, Japan and Chile. Participants filled out surveys with the Programme for the International Assessment of Competencies, which measures proficiency in three categories: literacy, numeracy (using mathematical concepts in everyday life) and information communication technology, (using digital technology to communicate with other people, and to gather and analyze information).
The gist is in the comparison of a person who had few books in home and went to college vs. someone who had tons of books but only did 9 years of school, their literacy levels were roughly the same.

This article got me to thinking about my grandmother, Carmon Pickering. She grew up in the cotton fields of North Louisiana, went to a business school in Jones, La. but didn't graduate. She went on to get married and raise four kids taking care of the family.

(***Edit*** The school wasn't in Jones, it was called Draughon's Business College and was in Jackson, Mississippi. I misheard her when I talked to her to confirm it.)

I learned a lot from her over the years, including how to cook, but the most important thing was instilling in me the love of reading. My earliest memories are of me sitting in my grandmother's lap while she read aloud to me. As I grew older, a visit to my grandmother's would always lead me to her bedroom whose walls were lined with stacks of books on every topic from gardening to astronomy. I would go on to become an amateur astronomer and she fed that passion with subscriptions to Astronomy magazine and a membership to the Planetary Society which netted a newsletter from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

My parents provided my brothers and I with books also. We had a set of Britannica Encyclopedias in the house and I regularly got books for birthdays and Christmas with topics ranging from space and WWII to the Hardy Boys and The Man in the Iron Mask.

I strive to expose my daughter to these same types of books because I understand the importance of reading. It's also one of my joys of owning my comic book shop for a short time. I got to show other children the pleasure of reading comics and other books and what worlds they could open up for them.

Now, I pick up my daughter from school and she can't wait to show me the books that she has checked out of the library. She even wants to read to me as we drive home. Who needs audio books when you have that?

What were some of your favorite books growing up?

Growing Up Surrounded by Books Could Have Powerful, Lasting Effect on the Mind via The Smithsonian.com

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