Bethel resident Martha Bishop was raised in a small Indiana community called University Heights. Bishop, who was taught to read at the age of three, lived just three blocks from the University of Indianapolis. There were not many children her age there, so she took up reading and did quite a bit of it.
"We did not have a library close by, but my family had books at home, neighbors had books for me to borrow, and there was a small library at my church," Bishop said.
There was also no library in her elementary school either, but the "book mobile" came by once a month. "I was thrilled that when I was in third grade I was allowed to choose books from the fourth grade section, because I'd read all the books in the third grade section," she exclaimed.
Bishop's love of reading led her to a teaching career in Indianapolis, and then Washington, D.C. where she taught in several elementary schools in Montogomery County, MD for 23 years.
In 1986, a friend she had met from teaching in Indiana had gotten in touch with her and six months later in 1987, they had married. After moving to Bethel, she worked as a part-time librarian at Berry and Johnson Schools, and then became a full-time teacher at Bethel Middle School.
"Although, I enjoyed classroom teaching, I had always wanted to become a School Librarian, surrounded all day by books and students!" Bishop said and added, "It was (still is) my idea of a perfect career."
Joining the Barnum Square Toastmasters Club in 2009, Bishop won a few Tell Tale and Humorous speech contests, in which she said, "the stories within those speeches were created by me."
One assigned speech was to create an original story based on an aphorism. Bishop had been originally been telling stories authored by someone else and this story had to be an original, created just by her.
"The situation I imagined and the story I told at the next Toastmaster's meeting was of Rafe, a raven, who discovers that there are skills and qualities in others that he admires but will never possess himself. He also learns that the skills and qualities he does possess, while different, are also important," Bishop explained.
The aphorism was, "That which is truly valuable is often underrated." It was her friend, Gail Palermo that had encouraged her to get the story published and she did. 'Rafe's Grand Performance,' is her first published book. Several other adventures are planned for Rafe, based on other wise sayings.
"I envision a picture book series about Rafe for children, to be read to preschool and first graders and read alone up to grade three."
Bishop believes that books written for young adults are the best books written today. "It is a tough audience, and the books have to be written with tightly developed plots about problems and other experiences young people face or anticipate. Generally, authors dispense with parents, teachers, and other adults in the first chapter, the heroes are the teenagers."
It is Bishops's belief that people of all ages still read a lot and many teens read books that have become classics over time as well as current offerings.
Martha Bishops's book, 'Rafe's Grand Performance,' is available at Byrd Books in Bethel. An outdoor storytelling session with a book signing at the Bethel Library is scheduled for this fall. Check Byrd's Book website or Bethel Patch's event calendar for details.