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The Reading Countess Chair

A Katyite remembers where her love of reading originated

March 25, 2010 – Katy, Texas – I recently struck upon a picture of a “reading countess chair” while searching for comfortable seating for my classroom library. My heart did a little skip and a jump as I thought back to how I crafted my blog name, “Reading Countess.” As the only granddaughter for sixteen years, I was treated like royalty by my beloved grandfather. He was the only one in my family who called me “Contessa,” a play on my “real name”, and he went out of his way to treat me like a member of the royal court. Much to my brother’s chagrin, I received preferential treatment by Granddaddy time and time again during my childhood. When we misbehaved, it was my brother and not I who was sent outside to pick the weeds. I was even given “fresh water baths” when I was really young. My grandfather carted buckets of water from the kitchen to fill the bathtub so that I would not be forced to take a bath using the pungent sulfur water from the rest of the farmhouse’s plumbing system.  

I delighted in the extra attention, but it was the time spent on my grandfather’s lap that molded me to become what I am now-a reading teacher. Being the sole granddaughter came with my favorite perk of all. I was the only grandchild allowed to crawl up on his lap when he was reading one of his many thick books he devoured weekly. Peering over his shoulder through the smoke-laden air of his pipe, the value of the written word was palpable. Surrounded by wall to wall shelves of books in his living room, I learned at an early age that books were treasured in my family, and I desperately wanted to be a part of that seemingly secret reading world.  

Having a “reading countess chair” in my classroom would be a silent nod to my loving Granddaddy. I will be looking for ways to add this touch very soon. But for now, the memory of him lighting a fire in me for literacy will have to suffice. Memories, and my “Reading Countess” surname, are all I have of him.

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