Saturday, April 05, 2008

Longtime Book Collector Finally Learns to Read

I spotted this touching story in the Houston Chronicle this morning concerning a 79-year old woman who has collected books for years even though she could not read any of them. It's a beautiful story about how she expected that one day all those books would come in handy and how learning to read has given her a whole second life.

Picture: Ruth Mims, front, and her tutor, Emily Hopkins, meet twice a week at Tye Preston Memorial Library in Canyon Lake.
Taken by: Delcia Lopez: San Antonio Express-News

Mims was first exposed to the world of books through her friendship with the little girl whose parents owned the farm on which Mims' parents worked. The girl would read storybooks to her when Mims was 5 or 6 years old; that experience sparked in her a lasting desire to read.

"I said, 'I'd like to learn to read that myself,' and she said, 'You have to go to school. You can't learn by listening to me read, that's not how it's done,' " Mims said. "And I said, 'OK, one day I'll find out how it's done.'

It would take her seven decades to learn the secret. In the meantime, life got in the way."
She began working with Emily Hopkins, a volunteer with 38 years of experience teaching preschoolers through eighth-graders. They began with the first volume of the "Laubach Way to Reading" series, which starts with phonics.

"I sat down and started with that very, very basic curriculum and realized she had some skills," said Hopkins, 70. "People at her age have learned to cope, so Ruth had quite a few coping skills."
"I'm going as far as my education will take me, darling. I have no intention of giving up," she said.

And of course, she plans to go through all the books in her house.

"When I had money, I bought all the things I wanted, and it was books and more books and more books. I have a full set of encyclopedias. I bought them in 1994," she said. "I knew one day I was going to learn to read them. I got enough books here to read the rest of my life and I have every intention of reading them."
To get a real feel for this lady, the life she's lived raising several successful children, and the spirit that inspires her to keep going full-speed ahead, read the whole article. It's a great way to start off the weekend.


  1. I can't imagine someone collecting so many books and being unable to read them. What faith she must have had in one day learning that skill!

  2. What a touching story. Thanks for sharing it!

  3. I do love this story. I get the impression from her picture that this lady has a whole lot of life left in the tank and that she will accomplish a lot of personal goals in the next couple of decades.