Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Reader Who Most Influenced Me

On this week's Share A Story Shape A Future blogging event sponsored by The Reading Tub, they pose the question:

Who is the person who influenced you most as a reader?

Here she is with her first grandson (someone she also influenced as a reader):

My mom

She's gone now from this earth but she sits on my shoulder every day. I see her putting a bowl on her head and prancing around the kitchen, reciting Robert Louis Stevenson's poem, The Land of Counterpane. I expect it was a meaningful poem since my brother and I both had times of extended illness in which we were confined to bed. It made us giggle and we loved the rhythm and rhyme of the poetry.

I see her pouring over a book, occasionally with those silly black framed glasses from the 1950's on her nose - do you know the ones with the wings? Her two most favorite authors were Phyllis Whitney and Eugenia Price (Momma loved historical fiction). As soon as I was in 5th or 6th grade and was a strong enough reader to attack these novels, she began sharing them with me and we'd have play fights over who would get the newest title first.

Although I cannot remember the first time I heard this phrase, I can still see that dreamy look in her eyes when she would tell me "you can go anywhere in a book" I believed her and I still do.

All her children believed her and their children (Nana's grandchildren) do too. What an incredible legacy this little feisty woman from the coal-mining country of Virginia has passed along, simply because she loved reading and books.

Today, she remains an influence not only in my personal reading (I have a good book or three or four on my bedside stand all the time) but also in my work as The Literacy Ambassador. Her passion for reading and stories and talking and sharing inspire me to this day. They are the reason I am an enthusiastic and passionate speaker, writer and advocate for the fact that "there is a book for every child". I know that without the indelible impression she left, I would not be doing what I am today. She, in fact, is the core of the revolution I am starting with my two new books, Anytime Reading Readiness and Before They Read. To learn more about that revolution, visit Reading is For Everyone
You can also stay in touch on Twitter and Facebook where you'll find me as litambassador and on Linkedin


Terry Doherty said...

Wow, Cathy. What a great post. It is amazing how those memories stay with us ... and transform who we are every day!

Cathy Puett Miller said...

Thanks, Terry. Someone said to me a long time ago, "they are never really gone if you hold them in your heart and talk about them." Now "Nana" is all over the Internet. She'd be proud.

Mare said...

What a wonderful tribute to your mom! She gave you a true gift that has stayed with you through years and years. It's so heartwarming!

Your mom is so proud of you, I'm sure. She planted that seed as you have done with your own children and on to there's but most importantly to all other children as well.

Thank you for sharing. This was so uplifting.

Cathy Puett Miller said...


I'm glad to see that this blog is touching the lives of others. Momma is an inspiration to us all. I hope you'll share it with a few of your contacts as an example of what extraordinary things ordinary people can do.

Richard OBrien said...

My Mum read to us as children regularly and I can also relate to RL Stevensons Counterpane... I would add that my grade 6 teacher introduced the class to Ednid Blyton with readings of The Magic Faraway Tree which gave a great sense of a window of adventure and magic

Cathy Puett Miller said...

I love that Richard called reading "a window". I'll be blogging soon about more windows we can open for our children that lead them to be readers.