Messy House, Messy Minds?

March 2, 2009 at 10:07 pm | Posted in Book Blather | 6 Comments

This article on Slate claims a link between household order and young children’s interest in reading.  I imagine this theory will capture your attention as much as it did mine, especially if you happen to be a parent.

It’s been said that I read more than average.  I’m not sure how my childhood would mesh into this particular study.   Dinnertime might be anywhere between 6 and 11 PM, and bedtime depended on what was on TV that night.  Our housekeeping, on a spectrum between the cover of Architectural Digest and a special episode of Oprah, would lean toward the Oprah end.  Factor in a couple of random events, such as a neighbor passing out drunk on the couch with a lit cigarette and nearly burning down the entire apartment complex, and let’s just say ‘orderly’ would not best describe my childhood home environment.

Why did I turn into such an obsessive reader?  I can only remember being interested in books from about age 4, when I was already habitually begging for particular titles.  I really have no idea what my parents did before that point.  My brothers didn’t turn out like me in this respect.

I will say that my house is quite orderly now – now that I live alone, that is.  There’s always somewhere to sit and I know where all my books are, among other factors.  Since getting my own place and not needing roommates, I have read more than ever before.  So maybe there is a link between household order and reading.  It seems to me, though, that the more literate the people I know, the less orderly their houses tend to be.



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  1. I keep the kitchen clean, and once a week I attend to vacuuming and moping dog paw prints off the hardwood floors and tiles. Anything else is defintely cutting into reading time. I’ll never be on my deathbed wishing I’d have dusted just one more time. . . 🙂


  2. Spelling error — That would be mopping. 🙂


  3. Well, I like things to be organized but my house is definitely not spotless. I clean when the mess becomes noticeable, and every few weeks go into a cleaning frenzy and tidy everything up. As a child my house was pretty orderly, and while all my siblings are readers, none are quite obsessed about it as me. I really don’t think there’s a connection between orderliness in the home and kids becoming readers.

  4. My house is generally pretty neat, but I go through messy periods. I think the reason more literate people may be messier is partly due to “absent-minded professor” syndrome, which makes one pick things up and out them down again in odd places, thereby making a house seem less organized…or because they get so caught up in books, they don’t get around to doing chores! At least, that’s what happens to me… 🙂

  5. I keep my house fairly clean. But I don’t spend much time at it. The small house helps and just working at the cleaning throughout the day and never letting it build up.

    I’ve gone through phases though. When I was single my apartment, bedroom and car were sooo cluttered. So I think I keep things clean more for the sake of family life.

  6. This is really interesting. I know I, myself, am not that orderly of a person and I LOVE to read. So there might possibly be a connection. My finace on the other hand is very neat and orderly, and he doesn’t like to read nearly as much as I do.

    Thanks for sharing this!

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