Building the Carter library Getting a Read On

March 18, 1998|By JOHN RIVERA

Former President Jimmy Carter recalls how his love of reading was nurtured for Sun staff writer John Rivera:

"Well, I had an inspirational teacher whose name was Miss Julia Coleman. I quoted her in my inaugural address, by the way. We were a little tiny country school. She pushed us hard, no matter if we were bright or not. She would play classical music on a little scratchy phonograph and we had to learn how to identify Bach or Brahms or Rachmaninoff. She had a list of books, beginning very simply and going into more advanced reading. And she would give a prize in all different categories of who read the most books and who finished the most interesting books. She had paintings that she would show us and we would have to identify: This is Sir Joshua Reynolds and so forth. And we had contests: who could get the most right out of a hundred or whatever. So she was constantly challenging us.

"But even when I was very small, ordinarily for Christmas all I wanted was books. I remember when I was 8 years old I got a complete set, which I still have, of the 'Book of Knowledge.' I think there are 22 books. And an ancillary collection of all of the works of Guy de Monpassant, which came with the 'Book of Knowledge.' I've been reading ever since I was a child. My mother read day and night when she was nursing, whenever she could. And all of our family have read at the table. Amy got caught reading at the table at a state banquet...So books have been a part of our life."

Pub Date: 3/17/98

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