Kelle Hampton is a writer, photographer, speaker and celebrant of life’s ‘large little things’. Kelle began her now extremely popular blog, Enjoying The Small Things, shortly after the birth of her daughter Nella. Nella was unexpectedly born with Down Syndrome, which came as a shock to Kelle and her family. What followed was the very raw and honest account of her experience which she shared online. Through the telling of her story, Kelle Hampton has provided support for other families who are going through the experience of having a baby born with Down Syndrome. It would seem that Kelle provides these families with hope, and provides an unfiltered education on what Down Syndrome is and how to manage a diagnosis. Born in the Midwest, Kelle Hampton went on to write a personal memoir entitled Bloom, which went on to become a New York Times Bestseller. Kelle has also contributed to popular publications like Parents, Parenting, Martha Stewart’s Whole Living, Good Housekeeping and many more. Perhaps what is most inspiring about Kelle Hampton and her story is the community of families she has built, who all seem so supportive of each other. Please enjoy my interview with Kelle Hampton…
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
“I’m a writer.” It’s a short answer that, of course, always opens up to more questions (“What do you write?”) with more complex answers (a book, a blog, occasional articles…), but the simple truth is that I make a living doing something that I love—something I’d do even if I didn’t make money doing it—and I feel so grateful for that.
I am currently reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.
What’s your earliest memory of reading?
My family was on vacation in Tawas, Michigan. We rented a cabin near Lake Huron, and I remember sitting with the book Little Bear by Elsa Holmelund Minarik and going over every page until I knew I could “perform” it out loud all by myself. It was a big deal— a “She can read!” celebration from my family that I’ll never forget.
If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be?
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I read it after I had a daughter with a disability, and I just wanted to hug the author for so brilliantly encouraging young people to step into the shoes of someone whom the world labels different, and feel what they are feeling. This book is an invitation to true empathy, not pity, and it prompts so many needful conversations for young people.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
I worked for a few months selling bras at Victoria’s Secret when I was in college. I was horrible at mall retail—always feeling awkward following lingerie shoppers and never knowing what to do, so I’d just fold and refold panties to stay busy, watching the clock for my shift to end. I called up and quit the morning after Thanksgiving which, as you know, is the best day to leave a mall store inadequately staffed last minute.
Do you read as much as you’d like to?
It’s hard at this point in motherhood, juggling schedules and my kids’ demands, to find the time. I do a lot of spotty reading—picking up one of the six books on my nightstand—and reading a chapter here and there. But just like everything else in life, if it’s important enough to you, you’ll make efforts to find time and sacrifice other things to commit. Reading always feeds my creative soul and makes me a more thoughtful, productive creative being, so I’ve been doing better at carving away time to read. I started my first book club this month which creates some accountability and incentive for reading.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. This book is the bible for anyone in the creative field. I’ve read it many times—it’s an easy read—and it always pushes me forward. Whatever it is we dream of creating, if we’re not doing it, it’s because we’re giving in to the beast of Resistance.
Is there a book that you’ve read more than once? What is it and why did you revisit it?
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
For any women in my life who admit they don’t read much but wish they did, I recommend Kelly Corrigan because she’s not only easy to read, but she’s so relatable, especially for women my age. She says everything you’ve wanted to say but don’t know how to say it, and her stories are rich with both heart and humor. Every friend I’ve recommended her writing to always returns to tell me how much they loved her.
What’s your favourite genre of book?
Memoir. I love reading stories that really happened, and every time I read a new memoir, I feel like I’ve collected a new friend.
What do you think a world without books would be like?
Stories remind people that they aren’t alone in their experience and broaden our perspectives to see beyond our own world. A world without books would be lonely and selfish.
Is there an author whose writing you’re such a fan of, that you’ll read everything they release?
Do you think digital books will ever completely replace real books?
No. As much as our culture is shifting to more technology and convenience, I think there will always be a part of us that thirsts for a balance to all the screens in our lives. The sensory experience of reading a book—the smell of the paper, the sound of a page turning, the feel of a good heavy binding in your hand—cannot be beat.
What book do you feel humanity needs right now?
I think the very problem with humanity right now is that too many people have a one-book view. There isn’t one book, and there shouldn’t be. We need more books—plural–more stories, more viewpoints, more exposure to other beliefs, more willingness to listen and expand our library of thought.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life?
The Bible. Misinterpretations of it made for some of the saddest periods of my life and affected a lot of paths in our family. If anything, it’s an example of the power of written word. It can heal, comfort and change the course of lives in amazing ways but holds the same potential to hurt.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
As a teacher, parent and children’s literature lover, I can’t leave out the gems that shape us early. I read more children’s books these days than adult books because I love to see what my kids are reading. Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak, Roald Dahl, Judy Blume—the essentials for childhood.
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
I’m always drawn to good memoirs, but I’d also love to return to some of the great literature classics I blew through in college just to finish an assignment, and read them with new perspective and experience.
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
Take Me To Church.