KEEPING UP IN AMERICA
"Learn them to read the Scriutures, and be conversant therein," the Reverend John Cotton urged his Boston parishio- ners in a 1656 homily on child rearing. "Reading brings much benefit to little Children."
"Benefit" was an understatement. In the harsh moral uni- verse of Cotton's New England Puritans, ignorance was no ex- cuse for sin: A child who died young (as many did) could ex- pect no mercy in the hereafter merely because he had not been able to read the Bible....