My mom grew up in poverty in dust bowl Oklahoma, and the thing that got her out was education. She had three daughters, and she did all the housekeeping, all the cooking, all the driving—just like moms do—and was also a teacher. But somehow, at night, she was in my room and we read to each other. I would read a page and she would read a page. And I felt like a different person because of that. Once I had kids, I looked at my baby and thought, "What am I supposed to do with you?" Nobody tells you how you need to play with them to help their brains develop. Mothers all over the country want what's best for their kids, but they might not have had a mom or dad like mine who took a keen interest in the way their minds worked. Yet they don't love their kids any less than I love mine. That's what made me become a Save the Children ambassador, and it's why I'm so passionate about early education in particular. I know that it was reading that helped me define myself.
—As told to M Healey