99-year-old WWII veteran launches his career as a children’s book author: ‘Reading is a foundation’

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A 99-year-old World War II veteran has launched a new career writing children’s books.

Sam Baker, 99, of Scottsdale, Arizona, joined the Marine Corps in 1942, just four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

When he returned to civilian life in the fall of 1947, Baker joined the US Coast and Geodetic Survey, now the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Baker worked for NOAA for 30 years before retiring.

At the age of 95, Baker decided to start writing.

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Baker told Fox News Digital that his son encouraged him to write his first children’s book, “The Silly Adventures of Petunia and Herman the Worm,” which was published in 2018.

The book is based on stories Baker used to tell his children about a worm named Herman when they were growing up.

Sam Baker, a 99-year-old World War II veteran, has embarked on a new career writing children’s books.
(Ruby Rideout)

In 2020, Baker released his second book, “Oscar the Mouse”, based on Baker’s own childhood.

“When I was young, someone gave me a white rat as a pet,” Baker said.

Baker added that while people “always cringe” when he tells them he has a pet rat, his rat “was the cleanest thing you’ve ever seen.”

“She and I had a good relationship,” Baker said. “But my mum didn’t want me to take him inside the house, so I had to build him a cage outside.”

Sam Baker joined the Marine Corps in 1942 and served in World War II.  He is photographed in 1944.

Sam Baker joined the Marine Corps in 1942 and served in World War II. He is photographed in 1944.
(Courtesy of Sam Baker Books)

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After writing “The Silly Adventures of Petunia and Herman the Worm,” Baker said he remembered his beloved pet rat and decided to write a book about her as well.

Although instead of a rat, he chose to change the character to a mouse, “because people accept mice over rats,” Baker said.

Baker said his third book would follow Oscar the Mouse through more adventures. Baker told Military Families Magazine that the book is expected to be released later this year.

Baker told Fox News Digital that he wanted to write children's books to inspire young people to read because

Baker told Fox News Digital that he wanted to write children’s books to inspire young people to read because “reading is the foundation of all other learning.”
(Ruby Rideout)

Baker’s own journey with reading had its challenges. He told Fox that his teachers taught him to read using the sight method, which made it difficult for him to read. He said he only learned phonics as an adult.

However, he said he developed a love for reading in ninth grade when he had to write a dozen book reviews in a year.

Another significant moment in Baker’s journey to becoming a children’s book author came several years later, when his eldest daughter, Sally, was just 3 years old.

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At the time, Baker says, his wife used to read to Sally every day, and one day Sally decided to read to Baker.

“She sat me down on the couch, took her favorite children’s book, climbed onto my lap, turned her back on me, read the whole book to me, closed it authoritatively, went back and gave me the biggest smile,” Baker said.

Sam Baker's first book,

Sam Baker’s first book, “The Silly Adventures of Petunia and Herman the Worm”, is based on the stories Baker used to tell his children when they were growing up. The book was published in 2018.
(Courtesy of Sam Baker Books)

However, the book had been upside down, Baker said. Anyway, he hugged her and gave her a kiss for her achievement.

Seeing her daughter so proud of herself “showed me her willingness to learn to read,” Baker said. “And it stuck with me.”

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Besides his son’s encouragement, Baker said he was inspired to write children’s books to encourage children to read.

“Reading is the foundation for all other learning,” Baker said. “If you can’t read, you’ll have a hard time learning.”

“If I could just get a kid to learn to read, it would be worth all the trouble and cost,” Baker added. “I don’t make money. I don’t want to make money. I want children to learn to read.”

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