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A Reading Tale

A Reading Tale

By Kathy Carlton Willis

I’ve always been a lover of books—the opportunity to visit a new world, a new time, a new way of life. What’s your rite-of-passage reading story? I’ll start with mine.

As soon as I started school, Mother encouraged me to learn to read. She was a voracious reader, eager for me to develop the same love of books. This Chatty Kathy enjoyed every form of communications since my first spoken word. The written word was no different—I took to it like gravy goes with biscuits. Remember those Weekly Reader magazines (oh, the delicious smell of the ink and paper!)? The SRA Reading Lab inspired me to read not just for speed, but for retention.

When I received my first public library card around age 6, Mom walked us to the library several times a month. Yes, it seemed like it was two miles uphill both ways, but it was worth it! Our little town of four thousand was blessed with a Carnegie library (built in 1905) full of well-loved books. Mom taught me how to follow my favorite authors—I read all their titles. I knew how to thumb through a card catalog and recite the Dewey decimal system. By the time I outgrew the children’s section, I had read every book and graduated to the “grown-up” shelves.

Most avid readers say their idea of a time-out from stress and life involves curling up with a good book—claw-foot tub or blazing fireplace optional.

My favorite reading tip is this: Don’t waste time on a mediocre book. When reading for recreation, remember that you aren’t in school anymore. You aren’t being graded for reading every word. So if a book doesn’t appeal to you, put it down! Grab a different one. We have only so much time in life—definitely not enough time to get bogged down with a boring book or confusing storyline.

Just because a book earned rave reviews doesn’t mean it’s the right book for you, any more than gorgeous size 7 shoes will fit size 10 feet!

Think about your own reading tale. What was it like when you learned to read? When did you discover your local library? Do you recall the favorite authors of your early years? Who inspired you to read more? What challenges you today in your reading? We all have a story—even a reading story!


Kathy Carlton Willis Bio:

Kathy Carlton Willis
Kathy Carlton Willis

Kathy Carlton Willis gets jazzed speaking for women’s events and writers conferences across the country. She’s known for her practical and often humorous messages. Kathy enjoys fiddling with words as a writer and also coaches others. When not reading or writing books, she serves as a happy pastor’s wife.

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. My gram was the one who took me to the library, we didn’t walk though because the library was 5 miles away. When I was 6 I did walk there by myself. I had finished my books and Gram said she wasn’t going to the library for several days, so I grabbed my books and toddled off. I made it safely to the library, turned my books in and climbed into my favorite window seat with another stack to peruse. I fell asleep.

    Luckily the librarian was my Sunday School teacher. She called Gram, who was searching frantically for me, but looking a lot closer to home. Rather than punishing me, Gram asked the library to raise the limit of books I could check out at a time, and directed me to chapter books, so reading them would take a little more time.

  2. I picked up reading, by being read TO, at 3 or 4 so I was reading really well by the time I entered Kindergarten. Years later my mom told me that the teacher scolded my parents for teaching me to read (apparently that was HER territory)! She also suggested I needed counseling because I liked black crayons. Shoot … she may have been right about that one … I still like the color black!

    1. My 1st grade teacher was upset because Gram taught me to write in cursive over Christmas break. She said it would fill up my brain too soon. Gram told her what she thought of that idea! Makes one wonder how some teachers ever got a license!

  3. My love of reading began with 1st grade, as far as I know. I don’t remember if my mom read to me before that – she may have. I loved it from the beginning.

    1. I had a whole houseful of older brothers and sisters, and I was read to a lot as a kid. My family is a family of readers. I was born with a love of words.

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