It was a simple motto that passed on the former schoolteacher's love of books and reading to her children, grandchildren, and young readers throughout Seattle.
Mrs. Allen died June 2. She was 90 years old.
Mrs. Allen was the mother of Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and Jody Allen, CEO of Vulcan Inc., who both inherited their mother's passion for reading.
Mrs. Allen began reading to Paul when he was three months old. A few years later, a book she gave him about steam engines ignited his interest in technology and science.
"No one could have been a better and more supportive mother to me and my sister, Jody," Paul Allen said. "She had many friends with whom she shared her love of books, sports and pets.
"She was a shining light for everyone that knew her."
She is survived by Paul, Jody, and three grandchildren. Her late husband, Kenneth S. Allen, was the longtime associate director of the University of Washington library system.
In her later life, Mrs. Allen became known as the mother of her son, the technologist and philanthropist. But throughout Seattle she was known first as a beloved public school teacher whom students would remember for a lifetime. Long after they were grown, former students in Mrs. Allen's fourth grade class at Ravenna School would stop her on the street to thank her for instilling in them a love of reading. They'd remember how she would read aloud to them with perfect diction and a finely tuned sense of drama.
Although she retired from teaching a generation ago, Mrs. Allen always loved children and would look back at her time in the classroom with great fondness. "It's not like work," she'd say. "It's like living."
Reading and book collecting was a constant in her life. She read everything from the classics to the latest novel. She volunteered at Seattle's Wise Penny Thrift Shop, pricing books for customers, but buying plenty of books, too, that filled up shelves throughout the house.
Her love of literature led to a lifetime commitment to public libraries and public education, causes she championed through the family's charitable foundation.
She was an avid sports fan, particularly of her son's Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers, as well as University of Washington Husky football. (In Portland, a basketball player once fell on her during a game, breaking her wrist. She wouldn't leave, though, until the game was over.)