My mom, a teacher and school counselor, is as much of a bookworm as I am: Filipino American authors, pulpy romances, child psychology texts disguised as children’s books. Her choices were idiosyncratic and a bit haphazard (we didn’t have that much money), but they strike me now as multitudinous and wide-ranging. Her books were a source of endless possibility.
As an adult and someone intimately connected to literature in my life work, I know that access to these books shaped me in unconscious ways.
Outside the house, one memory I have is of visiting the Council Bluffs Public Library with my mother sometime in middle school and picking up The Stranger. Junior high! The language in The Stranger was simple, the plot a real thriller with something sinister that I couldn’t put my thumb on, and I was captivated. I knew nothing of Camus’ existentialism at that age, but I know that my mom’s trips to the library were the foundation for a great love of the very act of reading and of thinking about my life through literature.
Now there’s proof that book owners make smarter kids. Perhaps one of the most obvious theories ever to be given its own research study, the conclusions summed up by Laura Miller in Salon reiterate that more books in a household exponentially increases the chances of smart kids. Books, it seems–more than education or income–are a real predictor of your kid’s intelligence.
If my mom had chosen to invest in an Atari or a Nintendo set instead of books (which I definitely nagged her about), where would I be now?