RAR-MA’s 12th Annual Gala Guest Authors Recall Favorite Childhood Books

March 13, 2018–Every avid reader can remember the first time he or she fell in love with a story, begging his or her parents to read it with them just one more time. This is a memory Raising A Reader MA is working to help every child and parent to experience together. Our 12th annual Dinner with an Author event boasts an impressive guest list of authors who are in support of this mission.

Meet February’s Highlighted Authors and see what they think about the importance of early child literacy!

Jessica Shattuck. Her most recent novel, The Women in the Castle, is a New York Times Bestseller. She is also the author of Perfect Life and The Hazards of Good Breeding, a New York Times Notable Book, a Boston Globe best book of the year, and a finalist for the 2003 PEN/Winship Award.

I don’t think I would have become a writer if I hadn’t been such a reader as a child. The Laura Ingalls Wilder books I loved taught me much about courage, family, and the power of language to organize an otherwise chaotic world.”


Michael Ponsor. He is the author of the legal thriller The One-Eyed Judge and the New York Times-bestseller The Hanging Judge.

My love of books started with Little Golden Books, which my mother bought for me at the grocery store. I still have quite a few of these, some inscribed with dates going back to 1949. I turned three in August of that year. It still warms my heart to look through them. My favorites were, and still are, The Happy Man and His Dump Truck” and Crispin’s Crispian, the Dog Who Belonged to Himself. Starting around age 8 or 9, I graduated to Landmark Books, which were mostly non-fiction. My first was called Prehistoric America. A prominent theme was dinosaurs, and I loved it.

For some reason, narrative for me has remained the most powerful way of conveying truth. For other people it may be music, or dance, or visual art. For me, access to what it is really like to be alive begins with something like: ‘A man was walking down the road. It was an overcast day, and you could tell by his face that he was sad. In the distance . . . .’  And I’m hooked! Always have been, always will be.”


Maura O’Leary. The novel When Angels Play Poker is her first novel. She drew inspiration from her work as a certified medium and founder of

“My inspiration comes from all the amazing authors and stories I’ve read over my lifetime. I was an avid reader as a little girl. I remember going every week to a small library in Waltham near the junior high school and getting stacks of little books – as many as I could carry in my arms! I started writing poetry and short stories in high school, and I was lucky to have supportive teachers. I learned that I wrote from my heart and was in my element when writing an emotional story. That still holds true today.

My first memories are of my grandmother reading to me at night when she visited. I remember her reading Make Way for Ducklings and other children’s books, imaginative tales of places so far away.”


Just like anything else you experience as a child, the books that you read and stories that you come to love help shape who you are today. For many children and guest authors, the importance of reading when you are young is not just in the story, but also in the quality time you are spending with your family or friends. Our evidence-based model at Raising A Reader MA helps to create these opportunities for children across the state.

Help our cause and come meet the authors! If you haven’t yet purchased your tickets for the gala, you can do so here.