In my own life, reading has played a major role. My mother, a first-grade teacher, taught me to read before I was four. I still remember my early favorite books: "The Pokey Little Puppy," "The Story of Ferdinand" and "The Story about Ping" — all underdogs (pardon the Pokey Puppy pun) when I think of them now. The puppy had too many siblings, thus not enough food. Ferdinand would rather "smell the flowers" than fight, not a typical bull; and Ping the duck, well, Ping was just too slow.