A recent article in Research in Social Stratification and Mobility discussed the effect on children of growing up in homes with many books versus growing up in homes without them. The conclusion was that the impact was of the order of three years extra schooling. My immediate reaction was skepticism. Statistics is a dangerous subject, and cause and effect are risky bedfellows. Would the possession of books not follow from social status and professional job status? Was there not simply a correlation here which had more to do with parental approach, and perhaps genetics, than books? The authors of the article think not. In fact they estimate that the impact of books in the home is twice as significant an effect as the professional status of the parents. Other research has suggested that even starting a small collection of books can make a significant impact on the recipient’s approach to, and interest in, learning. If this is so, then what of the children of the large numbers of families in Africa where money goes no further than the necessities and books are regarded very much as luxuries? Indeed, schools and libraries in many parts of Africa have inadequate supplies of books, never mind what happens at home.
So it’s wonderful to discover that there is a dedicated and efficient organization based in Minnesota which is concerned about the issue and does something really worthwhile about it. The organization is called Books for Africa (BFA), and it has a simple mission: “We collect, sort, ship, and distribute books to children in Africa. Our goal: to end the book famine in Africa.”
|Billy Karanja Kahora|
And he told of reading. His parents’ home was full of good books.
Michael – Thursday.