Sam Baker always loved reading, but for the vast majority of his life, that was all it was. An enjoyable task to fill open pockets of time. He found his love for reading during the ninth grade when he had to write a dozen book reports in one year. The repeated tasks might have scared other students away from reading, but he loved it.
That love followed him through all the aspects of his full life—even as he joined the Marines just four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor until 1947. From that point on, worked with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (which later became the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)).
Home with a more stable career, Baker had time to tell his children stories—some from books, others of his own creation. A common tale he wove was about a worm named Herman. Decades later, Herman became the topic of his first children’s book: The Silly Adventures of Petunia and Herman the Worm.
Credit: NY Post
“If I could just get one child to learn to read, that would be worth all the problems and the costs,” Baker says.
At the age of 95, Sam Baker’s son encouraged him to take his love for the written word and bring Herman the worm to life. After much work, the whimsical book was published in 2018. It’s full of sweet and colorful illustrations, detailing the unlikely duo’s “silly adventures.”
Baker’s eldest daughter, Sally, had her own hand in leading Baker to writing. When she was three years old, she decided to read her father her favorite book—only, she didn’t really read what was on the page. The book was upside down the entire time, yet she read with such authority and pride that Baker says it “demonstrated to me her will to learn to read. And it stayed with me.”
Helping children learn how to read is one of the driving forces behind Sam Baker’s writing career.
“If I could just get one child to learn to read, that would be worth all the problems and the costs,” he says. “I’m not making any money. I don’t want to make money. I want children to learn to read.”
Sam Baker during WWII. Credit: FoxNews
Learn more about Oscar the Mouse
That drive has propelled Baker forward. The publication of one book lit a fire under him. In 2020, he published his second book: Oscar the Mouse, this time inspired by his own life.
“When I was a youngster, somebody gave me a white rat as a pet,” Baker says. “She and I used to have a good rapport, but my mother wouldn’t let me take her in the house, so I had to build a cage for her outside.”
He made a slight change to the character, as “people accept mice over rats,” but the heart of the story remains the same. A third book, also centered around Oscar, is planned to be released this year.
For whatever reason, creatives constantly harp on the need to be “discovered” and established in their 20s. Sam Baker proves that doesn’t have to be the case. You’re never too old to find a new passion, bring a smile to the faces of others, and maybe even make a positive impact on their lives.
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