No. 717


If you will come, I would like to take you on a little journey that could result in all kinds of long-term benefits for you, your community and ultimately your country. In this column I have a message for a caring community, not just any single community, but every community in our great nation. It’s no secret that today we have a tremendous literacy problem in our country, with four of every 10 students in American high schools dropping out before they graduate. Add to this sad statistic, here in my state alone, it’s reported that thousands of students graduate each year and cannot read the diploma they are awarded. Needless to say, this takes a tremendous toll on both the individual and for society in general.
You may be aware that since 2005 I have been involved in a literacy project called a “Bookcase for Every Child.” With the help of our committee and the good people of Conway, Arkansas, we have made tremendous progress with 250 children from low-income families being awarded a quality, personalized bookcase and a starter set of books. With the help of our local newspaper, our governor and the Arkansas General Assembly we are beginning to make a real impact as more and more communities are getting involved. Just this past week I received an e-mail from a young lady who is a junior in high school who had read about our project and wants to start one in her community.
After reading about what she has been doing, with the help of her mother, I am sure she will. To be sure, there are caring people in every community, and if you qualify, I would like to give you something to consider and hopefully give some serious thought. There is no question that children are our greatest resource. This is borne out by the fact that parents, grandparents and the community at large do all kinds of good things for them. In most cases we provide a quality education, beginning when they start to school, and then a myriad of programs and activities outside of school that help them develop, both mentally and physically.
It would take more space than I have here to list all of the various ways we express our love and concern for our children. Here is the essence of what I want to get across to you.. When it comes to the mental, spiritual and physical development of a child there are few things more important than teaching a child to read and hopefully, develop a passion for reading. This simple act, easy to say but not easy to do, will provide more opportunity for success and a happy life than perhaps anything else we could do for them. To succeed in this endeavor we must reach the child while he or she is very young before they are totally distracted by ______ , and here you fill in the blank. The line is nowhere near long enough.
Here is my proposal, and it’s not that hard to do. I might add that I don’t earn a penny for anything I do in relation to this project. Our whole concept is about giving back. In smaller communities, say less than 4,000 population, every 4-year-old child can be given a bookcase and some books by a caring community. For larger communities, like ours, the priority must be on children from low-income families, as most of these families do not own any books for their children and they suffer as a result. Millions of parents read to their children almost from birth and they develop a much larger vocabulary than children in these families who do not have this advantage. Many of these children will drop out of school, and believe me, a caring community can change that. Visit our Web site:
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)