For Mother's Day we caught up with Castor, the former Florida education commissioner and University of South Florida president as well as mother to U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa. Castor's second daughter, Karen Castor Dentel, is running as a Democrat for the state House in the Orlando area. Her son, Frank Castor, serves as a judge in Palm Beach County. Castor plans to start her Mother's Day by visiting her 99-year-old mother-in-law with her husband, Sam Bell. The couple have been married since 1989, and together they have 10 grandchildren.
What's on your nightstand?
South of Broad by Pat Conroy. Conroy is one of my favorite authors. I read everything of his. This one is in the South again, in Charleston. I recommend it. I also recently read Saving CeeCee Honeycut by Beth Hoffman. It's about a young girl and her adventures first in taking care of her mother and then her finding a better future.
What did you encourage your children to read when they were young?
We started with all the Dr. Seuss books, and we read them over and over. Also, I think a primary contribution to my love for reading was how I saw both my parents starting the day reading newspapers. I grew up absorbing the news, and I did that with my kids too. We have always devoured newspapers in the morning.
As a working mother, you found success as an educator and politician. When it comes to women's issues, what authors do you think of?
I was helped enormously because of writers like Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan. At the time, they were interesting reads, although they certainly did not dominate my life. I think the women's movement that they helped spawn benefited me because they were able to make people pay attention. Now we have come almost full circle and (women) have to come back and remind others that equal rights is still an issue.
Are there any young women writers on women's rights that have your interest?
No, they are few and far between. But there are interesting biographies on women to read. It's complex because women have so much more access professionally now, so for writers, it is not groundbreaking at this time. However, I have found myself just appalled at some of the statements people have made regarding women's issues. An obvious one to point out, of course, is Rush (Limbaugh).
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4163.