No. 820



There is an old saying with a great deal of merit that goes, “If you are free, thank a soldier. If you can read, thank a teacher.” I am confident that most Americans are grateful for our nation’s Armed Forces that have won and preserved our freedom. I am also confident that the vast majority of Americans who are literate are grateful for their teachers who taught them how to read and the value of education.
As a literate person, can you imagine what life is like for those who cannot read? Sadly, there are 42 million adults in America today who are being denied basic opportunities most of us take for granted.
Those in our society who are at the greatest risk are children being reared in low-income homes, because quite often their parents can’t read. As a result, they have few, if any, books in the home for the children. In 2005 we started a literacy project here in Conway, Arkansas, called “Bookcase for Every Child” and we are making a difference. So far we have given 350 personalized bookcases and a starter set of books to some of these children. We are making a difference, and now our project is beginning to spread to other communities. The community of Greenbrier, just north of us, is holding their first Bookcase Literacy Banquet soon, no doubt with great success, and will build 60 bookcases to present to their children this coming spring.
We have been truly blessed by something that happened back in August 2011 when the American Profile magazine featured our project on the front cover. This publication is a full-color weekly magazine that is distributed in more than 1,400 newspapers, has a nationwide circulation of more than 10 million and is presently the fourth largest magazine in the nation. You can view our story at www.americanprofile.com. Knowing the story was coming for several weeks, I worked hard to completely rewrite and update the copy for our own web site so I could point those in the right direction who had an interest in starting a project of their own.
My thinking was well founded, as there was no way I could have kept up with all the activity without this miracle of technology. As the chairman, I had e-mails and phone calls from interested people all across the nation and believe we have at least two other communities in other states, so far, that are starting their own project. Just go to our web site: www.bookcaseforeverychild.com and you will find everything a community needs to start and complete the first-year cycle of having a book drive, hosting a fund-raising banquet and an awards ceremony to present the bookcases to their children. You should see the children’s faces light up when they receive their very own personalized bookcase and a starter set of books.
The American Profile story was written by contributing editor Marti Attoun, who came to Conway to interview me about our project. She also interviewed Nija Graves, a child who received a bookcase as a Head Start student a few years ago. Her picture, along with her bookcase and books, were featured on the front cover. In a subsequent video, she and her mother told about how much she had been helped by a “Bookcase for Every Child.” As the article says, “We are making a difference one kid at a time.” These children are America’s future and we must take time and make the effort to help those in low-income families who, in most cases, cannot help themselves.
(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 www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)