Study Confirms Growing Up in a Home Filled With Books Is Good for You

iStock.com/clu
iStock.com/clu

People who buy more books than they can possibly read can now use science to justify their spending sprees. As Pacific Standard reports, new research confirms that people who grow up with books at home tend to have higher reading comprehension and better mathematical and digital communication skills.

But how many books is enough to make a difference? The magic number seems to be above 80, according to a team of researchers led by senior sociology lecturer Joanna Sikora of Australian National University. Those who had around 80 books at home tended to have average scores for literacy—defined as "the ability to read effectively to participate in society and achieve personal goals”—while owning fewer than 80 books was associated with below-average literacy. Literacy continued to improve as the number of books increased to about 350, at which point the literacy rates remained steady.

Their findings are based on comprehensive surveys taken between 2011 and 2015 by the Programme for the International Assessment of Competencies. Respondents were between the ages of 25 and 65, and they came from 31 countries, including the U.S. and Canada. First, they were asked to estimate how many books they had at home when they were 16 years old. After racking their brains for a mental image of their childhood libraries, they were tested for reading comprehension, their understanding of common mathematical concepts, and their ability to use digital technology as a communication tool. The results showed a positive correlation between these skill sets and having books at home.

"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 wrote in their paper, published in the journal Social Science Research.

The greatest impact, not surprisingly, was seen in the area of reading comprehension. Likewise, a 20-year study from 2010 suggested that access to a home library impacts a child’s educational attainment just as much as their parents’ occupations and education levels. Researchers aren’t sure if digital books will have the same positive effects if they eventually outnumber printed materials, but the team behind this latest study did point out that “home library size is positively related to higher levels of digital literacy.”

[h/t Pacific Standard]

J.K. Rowling Has Some Regrets About Ron and Hermione's Relationship in Harry Potter

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

In 2011, following the theatrical release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, many Potterheads found themselves at the end of an era in their lives. Fans were saddened by the fact that the series had come to an end—and even today, eight years later, it's still a sore subject for many longtime readers. But the pain has been somewhat alleviated thanks to Pottermore, new books such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and even insightful tweets from J.K. Rowling herself.

Did you really think the Potterverse would just be forgotten overnight? No, of course not. In fact, it only seems to keep growing with time as new readers and viewers come to the books and movies, thanks in large part to Rowling’s openness to sharing pieces of non-canon trivia.

One surprising admission Rowling shared following the conclusion of the series is that she had some misgivings about pairing up Ron and Hermione. In an interview conducted by Emma Watson in 2014, the author told the actress that she put Ron and Hermione together because she wanted to see them together, but that in many ways Harry and Hermione would have been the better fit.

"I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment," Rowling said. "That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione with Ron."

Though Rowling knew that her words would be met with "rage and fury" by some fans, she explained that "distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility ... There was too much fundamental incompatibility."

In a later interview, however, Rowling (possibly backtracking) said she thought Harry and Ginny were more like soulmates, whereas Ron and Hermione were a kind of an opposites-attract couple. “[They] are drawn to each other because they balance each other out. Hermione's got the sensitivity and maturity that's been left out of Ron, and Ron loosens up Hermione a bit, gets her to have some fun,” the author explained. “They love each other and they bicker a bit, but they enjoy bickering, so we shouldn't worry about it."

Whether or not Ron and Hermione should’ve been together in Rowling’s eyes, all that truly matters is that they did end up together—and made some pretty cute kids to boot.

New Stranger Things Novel Will Explore Chief Hopper's Past

Netflix
Netflix

Stranger Things's Chief Jim Hopper may be one of the Netflix series' most beloved characters, but it wasn't always that way. Think back to season 1 and you'll remember that David Harbour's character was rather grumpy and visibly depressed with what his life had become at the beginning of the series. While we now know that the death of his young daughter was among the issues that contributed to Hopper's discontent, we still don't know much about Hopper's life before he came to Hawkins, Indiana.

Now, thanks to an upcoming Stranger Things book, fans will get Hopper's full backstory.

Titled Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town, the prequel novel will reveal "long-buried secrets" from Hopper's past after Eleven grows curious of his backstory. It will focus on Hopper's life as a New York City homicide detective in 1977, six years before the events of Stranger Things's first season.

"This was a dream project and the book was a joy to write," Adam Christopher, the novel's author, wrote on his blog. "I’m a huge fan of the show, and Hawkins police chief Jim Hopper is my favorite character. Digging into his past in NYC was a real blast, and I hope readers have as much fun reading about his bizarre 1977 adventure as I did writing it."

In case you're wondering: Like the recently released Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds, Christopher's prequel is both official and completely canon, and ties into the storylines we see in the show.

Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town (which is available for preorder now) will be released on June 4, 2019—exactly one month before Stranger Things season 3 premieres on Netflix.

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