My mother and I read...


To celebrate Mother’s Day, we’re giving a nod to our favorite storytellers and bedtime-story readers, our moms. FableVisionaries share their favorite books their moms read to them or turned them on to. To kick-off, our Creative Director, Leigh Hallisey, shares a story about her mom’s influence on her love for the written word.

My mom is a bookworm. (As am I, as is my daughter. Nature or nurture, it’s awesome.) Our house was always full of books, and our weekly ritual growing up was going to the library to trade in our giant stacks for fresh new ones. It’s not surprising that I was an early reader, snuggling up next to my mom every night on the couch with our books and our miniature schnauzer — named Dickens, after Charles.

The first book I learned to read was Are You My Mother? by Dr. Seuss, right around when I turned four. She was so excited that as soon as my dad got home from work, she had me read the book to him. He’s a little more pragmatic, and suggested that I had memorized the book and wasn’t actually reading.

Dad, what were you thinking? Never challenge the mother lion when it comes to her cub’s genius! So my mom swapped that book out for There’s a Wocket in My Pocket, with the same result: I read and Dad doubted. He finally brought over the evening newspaper and pointed out a few simple words, which I was able to read and finally convinced him that my mom and I weren’t just masterminds of an elaborate parlor trick. My mom saved my whole collection of Dr. Seuss books, and it was amazing to turn those same, though slightly yellowed and musty, pages when I read them to my daughter, transferring not just the sound of the words but the love of them as well.


Andrea Calvin, Brand and Development Strategist
As my childhood was filled with books, it’s hard for me to pick just one book that my mom and I read together. I could talk about The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood. It was the first book I read on my own. Then again, after reading the book with my mom every day for months, I had it memorized. She still has the well worn, shipping tape-repaired copy. As I graduated to chapter books my mom and I would read together before bed. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi was my favorite. The titular character is independent woman traveling by sea to England to America when crazy things start to happen. Then there’s the infamous reading of Anne of Green Gables — the series we started and she finished on her own. 

Bill Gonzalez, Producer
My mom read us all the classics of our era like Go Dog Go, Cat in the Hat, and Make Way for Ducklings. She also gave us an appreciation for art and dance. (Portrait of Bill by Marianne.)

Peter H. Reynolds, Founder
My mother bought us a copy of Charlie and Chocolate Factory for our birthday in 1968. It was the first chapter book that really grabbed me and had me reading and re-reading. Roald Dahl became a favorite and a mentor for me. He was a grown up with an imagination fueling mountains of stories. Our mum knew how to inspire us!

Taryn Johnson, Production Artist and Animator
When I was a kid, my mom gave me a book she had read many times over when she was growing up. The book was called The Happy Moomins and was filled with magical stories about the Moomin family and their friends, and the adventures they have when they find a magic hat owned by the Hobgoblin. She told me she re-read it as many times as I did, and loved looking over the illustrated map of their world. I cherished the book and its characters as much as she did! The Moomins and their stories are a special thing my mom and I share.

Keith Zulawnik, Lead Artist
My mom used to read The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree with me, and the spread that I'm attaching actually inspired me to want to be an illustrator! Look at all those awesome little rooms!

Sarah Ditkoff, Communications and Development Strategist
My mom read The Little House on the Prairie series to me when I was little. I loved the Ingalls family and how the wild landscape surrounding them became a part of their family too. My mom actually just bought an antique coffee grinder in Maine. Ma Ingalls ground up wheat in their coffee grinder to make bread so they wouldn't starve.

Jordan Persson, Production Assistant
My mom and I read more books together than I can count. Starting at a very young age, she would read to me at bedtime, introducing me to Roald Dahl, Astrid Lindgren, and more. When I was older, she took me to book signings: Lemony Snicket; Terry Pratchett (pictured); Brian Jacques; Eoin Colfer; anyone we liked who would be appearing in a several-state radius. It was surreal to realize that all these stories I had taken for granted as An Unarguable Part of the World came from people who cast shadows in the light of day like anyone else. Later this month, my mother, my father, and I will be flying to England to attend a convention featuring British author Jasper Fforde. It'll be like old times.

Alyssa Graca, Marketing Intern
Growing up, my mom and I had a nightly ritual of reading together before bedtime. I didn’t start out as the best reader, and so my mom had to have a lot of patience helping me get through stories without getting frustrated at learning the new words. One of the earliest books I remember loving to read with her was The Monster at the End of This Book. As a kid (and even today), I loved the interactivity the picture book encouraged with the reader; Grover literally tells you to stop turning the pages in order to prevent getting to the end – and you know how well kids love to follow directions! Interactive books like this one really helped me develop a love for reading, but none of that would have happened without my mom encouraging me along the way.

Paloma Diaz-Dickson, Art Intern
When I first learned about this blog post, I emailed my mom about it and this is what she said: "I always tried to make books a part of your life whatever stage of life you were in. I even read to you while you were in my tummy.”

I brought a few of my favorite books back to Somerville last time I went home to Bolivia. I figured there's a reason I chose to bring these books, and not others; some of them just have gorgeous illustrations or touching stories, most of them have both. Some of them teach a valuable lesson, others simply entertain. I credit my interest in illustration to this early exposure by my mother (and father) during story time.

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