The Reading Mother by Strickland W. Gillilan

Today, I'm sharing a poem that guided the way I raised our daughter.

I'm a reader, and I wanted her to grow up to be a reader too.

Long before I was pregnant, I read a poem by Strickland W. Gillilan entitled THE READING MOTHER.

The words in the poem resonated with me because I am the person I am today because of books. I would have lived in the library in our small town if I'd had the chance.

Books inspired me to rise above my background and to see the possibilities life had to offer. In books I visited Europe decades before I did it in real life. In books, I learned how the West was settled, how cowboys worked and cared for their horses before I'd ever even touched a horse.

In books, I learned about different breeds of dogs because I adored dogs of every variety. I solved mysteries, went on adventures, learned how other peoples lived, traveled the world, learned history of my own country and many other countries in the world, and solved relationship problems before I knew what they were! I've had a copy of that poem in my files ever since the day I first read it and wrote it out by hand.

This poem is now in Public Domain so I'm reprinting it here today in the hope of inspiring young parents to raise their kids to be readers.


by Strickland W. Gillilan
Photograph, U.S. Public Domain

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
“Blackbirds” stowed in the hold beneath

I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Celert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such.

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be —
I had a Mother who read to me.

About Strickland W. Gillilan

Strickland W. Gillilan was an American journalist, author, poet, humorist and speaker who is most famous for the poem above, The Reading Mother.

As you can imagine, this poem is very popular on Mother's Day.

Gillilan is also recognized as the author of Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes, supposedly the shortest poem ever written.

Born September 21, 1869, in Jackson, Ohio. He was educated at the Ohio University. He passed away in 1954 at Warrenton, Virginia.

Takeaway Truth

Reading opens doors and opportunities. If you don't read, start. There are amazing stories and books full of useful knowledge. Read and create that love of reading in your children.

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