I was raised by readers. When I was young, my mother was partial to Agatha Christie and Margaret Walker. My father was a Steinbeck man, but he also loved mysteries. I read books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Lucy Maude Montgomery, Louise Fitzhugh, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Louisa May Alcott, and more.
In 1984, the year I turned 15, my father handed me George Orwell’s 1984 and said I ought to read it. I did. I found it even more disturbing than the Stephen King novels that kept me up most nights. Ten years later, someone gave my father a copy of John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil as a gift on Christmas Eve. He read the entire book that night and passed it along to me. I read it from cover to cover on Christmas Day, devouring it as I devoured my grandmother’s turkey and cornbread dressing.
I suppose it’s natural that someone who loves to read books as much as I do would aspire to write them. As an adult, I struggled for years to write something that anyone else might want to read. During those years, I worked in communications for a variety of nonprofits. In 2013, I took a job as the Communications Director for Reach Out and Read Colorado. I felt lucky to work for an organization that encouraged families to read books together in the way my family always had. I soon learned that reading to children from birth did more than turn out avid readers. It gave these children a foundation for success in life. It had done the same for me.
Tiffany Quay Tyson
If Anne Shirley could make a life with a family of strangers at Green Gables, then I could make a life anywhere I chose. And if Jo March could continue to write her stories, then I could continue to write mine.
Reading made me curious. It made me ambitious. It made me brave. If the Ingalls family could move from the big woods to the prairie, then I could certainly move from Mississippi to Texas and, ultimately, to Colorado. If Anne Shirley could make a life with a family of strangers at Green Gables, then I could make a life anywhere I chose. And if Jo March could continue to write her stories, then I could continue to write mine. I did continue to write and, eventually, to publish. My first novel, Three Rivers, was published in 2015 and my second, The Past is Never, came out just last year.
Though I only worked for Reach Out and Read Colorado for a brief time, I continue to support the organization. I know that reading aloud to children and giving them books at an early age is one of the best things we can do help every child succeed. I’ve seen the transformative influence of books in my own life. I support Reach Out and Read Colorado because I believe every child should have the chance to be curious, ambitious, brave, and successful. Thanks for joining me in supporting the mission of this visionary organization.
Tiffany Quay Tyson is a novelist and writing teacher. She lives in Denver.
The Past is Never by Tiffany Quay Tyson.