Good News for Literary Nerds

Unsurprisingly, having a newborn infant—my first child, and the first infant I’ve spent very much time with—has brought on intense feelings of inadequacy: as I fumble while changing his diaper, he very justifiably cries in response to my ineptness, and I find myself telling him, “Yeah, yeah, I know, it must be annoying to have such a klutz as a father.” (I haven’t been quite as self-conscious about my lack of physical coordination since high school, when it quickly and distressingly became clear that I would never make the basketball team; even at a Jewish school, the inability to shoot a lay-up was an immediate disqualification.)

So I was thrilled to discover this article, reporting on a 20-year study by the University of Nevada sociologist Mariah Evans: according to Evans’ findings, “being raised in a home with a 500-book library … propel[s] a child 3.2 years further in education, on average.” Strikingly, the study indicates that such a home library matters at least as much, and perhaps more, than the parents’ own educational levels or even whether the kid was born in the U.S. or China. Good news for literary nerds, I guess: even if I can never teach the kid to shoot free throws, the piles of books all over the house will silently and effectively be militating for his success.

Josh LambertJosh Lambert is Dorot Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow in the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University and the author of American Jewish Fiction: A JPS Guide (2009).

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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