“Background doesn’t mean Old Family,” said Jem. “I think it’s how long your family’s been readin’ and writin’. Scout, I’ve studied this real hard and that’s the only reason I can think of. Somewhere along when the Finches were in Egypt one of ’em must have learned a hieroglyphic or two and he taught his boy.”

– Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 23. Jem and Scout are trying to understand what “background” of the Finches that Aunt Alexandra is so proud of. Jem figures that literacy is an important measure of an old, quality or good family.