The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a study on the effects of a library at home:
Researchers found that children who grew up in a home with more than 500 books spent 3 years longer in school than children whose parents had only a few books. Also, a child whose parents have lots of books is nearly 20-percent more likely to finish college.
When I was four, my parents bought a house around the corner from a good public school, but maybe the location was less important than the built-in bookshelves below the staircase to the second floor. New hardcover books were considered an extravagance in our household (except for two sets of encyclopedias), but my mother always kept the bookshelves filled, partly because we gladly accepted second-hand tomes from neighbors and relatives. I'm sure I read, or at least flipped through, every one of them on summer days and winter nights. And I always found it bizarre to go to someone else's house and not see a stash of books somewhere.
Then again, family legend has it that I learned to read by perusing the listings in TV Guide and matching them to my favorite shows. (That's why "ensue" was one of the first verbs I learned, as in "complications ensue when Lucy forgets to tell Ricky..." or "trouble ensues when a stranger comes to Walton's Mountain...") So I don't know whether to thank Mark Twain or the publicity department at CBS for my early literacy.