How Many Books Should a South African Homeschool Family Have?
How Many Books Should a South African Homeschool Family Have


In a world where digital technology often takes center stage, it’s reassuring to know that the age-old tradition of building a home library still holds immense value. For South African homeschooling families, creating a haven of literature at home can be a game-changer. Recent research from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies has highlighted the remarkable benefits of a well-stocked home library on literacy, numeracy, and technology skills. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the findings of this study and explore how many books a South African homeschool family should have to boost their children’s education.

The Impact of Home Libraries on Literacy and Numeracy

A home filled with books is not just a collection of knowledge; it’s a gateway to enhanced literacy and numeracy skills. The research, led by Dr. Joanna Sikora of Australian National University, analysed data from 160,000 adults in 31 countries. Participants were asked to report the number of books in their homes during their adolescence, and the results were eye-opening.

The Magic Number: How Many Books Make a Difference?

The study found that the average number of books in homes varied from country to country. In South Africa, just as in many other places, the effects of home library size on literacy were significant. South African homeschooling families can draw valuable insights from this study when it comes to curating their own libraries.

  • Below Average Literacy and Numeracy: Teenagers from homes with almost no books had below-average literacy and numeracy skills. This underscores the importance of starting early with a reading-friendly environment.
  • Raising the Bar to the Average: Approximately 80 books in adolescent home libraries raised literacy and numeracy levels to the average. This shows that you don’t need an extensive collection to make a difference.
  • The Saturation Point: Interestingly, when the home library size reached 350 books, it was “not associated with significant literacy gains.” This suggests that there’s an optimal number for boosting these skills.

Leveling the Playing Field

One of the most remarkable findings of the study was that even teenagers with lower levels of secondary education, but who had access to a home filled with books, reached literacy and numeracy levels on par with university graduates who grew up with only a few books. This means that homeschooling families in South Africa can provide their children with a significant educational advantage through books.

Impacts on Digital Literacy

In a digital age, one might wonder if printed books are becoming obsolete. The study acknowledges the rise of digital culture but affirms that for now, the beneficial effects of home libraries are undiminished. In fact, home library size is positively related to higher levels of digital literacy, indicating that engaging with physical books confers significant benefits for adult ICT competencies.

For South African homeschooling families, the findings of this study underscore the importance of creating a nurturing literary environment at home. While the optimal number of books may vary, it’s clear that even a modest home library can make a significant difference in a child’s education. As South African homeschool families embark on their educational journey, they should consider building a home library, a treasure trove of knowledge and a beacon of literacy, numeracy, and digital skills.

By curating a substantial home library and promoting a culture of reading, South African homeschooling families can help their children thrive academically, preparing them for a future filled with success and knowledge.

Discover a fantastic selection of South African homeschool books and a treasure trove of literature at The Book Connection or visit the Literature on the CC Bookstore for a treasure trove of books to add to your library.

Blog Posts