Librarian Who Struggled to Read as a Child Now Helps Others in Staten Island

From The New York Times:

Patricia Ann Kettles did not read her first book until she was 10. She knows what it is to struggle with the very act of reading, trying to make sense of words on a page long past an age when other children can polish off a thick Harry Potter or Twilight novel as quickly as a wedge of cake.

Now 40, at the library on Staten Island where she presides and where patrons know her fondly as “Miss Patty,” she talked recently about what it was like to be illiterate while others around her were devouring entire worlds.

“The family’s name for me is Patty Ann, and for the longest time when I wrote the name ‘Patricia,’ I thought I was writing ‘Patty Ann’ because I had memorized it,” she said. “I didn’t realize I was not writing my right name.”

Forced to repeat first grade and twice made to switch schools, she was so lost that she was in fourth grade before she conquered an entire book. “That was ‘Dear Mr. Henshaw,’ by Beverly Cleary,” Ms. Kettles said. “I remember, because I was so proud.”

Today she is the manager of the Port Richmond Library, which operates out of a stately brick edifice that Andrew Carnegie’s largess built a century ago on “one of the finest residence streets on Staten Island,” as the area was described in The Staten Islander of March 1905. There is a theater in the basement bestowed upon the library 74 years ago by the Work Projects Administration.

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