No. 859



Several years ago, I had the honor of being the principal speaker for the annual Chamber of Commerce banquet in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. This small community has the distinction of being the home of the only diamond producing mine in the United States, and the only one in the world that is open to the public. The diamond mine is located in the Crater of Diamonds State Park, and each year hundreds, if not thousands, of people travel to this location in search of diamonds. Quite often a diamond is found that has very high value. This mine is just a plowed field, and people use a bucket and other soil-separating devices in an attempt to uncover one or more of these rare and precious jewels. When a diamond is found it is just a “diamond in the rough,” as it still has to be cut, polished and often mounted to achieve its maximum value.
Now, I see a perfect analogy here between an un-cut, un-polished and un-mounted diamond, and our copyrighted Bookcase for Every Child project that is also a “diamond in the rough” that has tremendous value. This is especially true when you consider the fact that we can help thousands, perhaps millions, of pre-school children who are being reared in low-income homes in this country learn to read and develop a passion for reading. These are the children who truly need help because many are destined to become school drop-outs who could later wind up in prison or dead. This past April, our Conway Bookcase Project Committee hosted our eighth annual awards ceremony and presented 50 more personalized bookcases, and a starter set of books to these precious children. This brought the number to 400 since we started back in 2005
We had two very special guests at our ceremony. Nija Graves, who received a bookcase back in 2009, and her mother Sherry came at our invitation to share what the bookcase and books had meant to Nija since she received them. Nija is in the first grade and reads at the fourth-grade level. Sherry says she reads 20 minutes every night. In addition to this success story, Nija was featured on the front cover of the American Profile magazine when they did a feature article about our project in August 2011. As a result of this article, our project has now spread to five states and signs point to many, many more in the near future.
Here is why our bookcase project is truly a “diamond in the rough.” We are all volunteer and do not use any tax money or grants of any kind. It is all about giving back. As I said earlier, this project has tremendous value because we attack illiteracy at the root of the problem, this being the home environment of the child. The parents and the community must take ownership of the illiteracy issue, which is killing our country, if we are to improve in the weeks, months and years to come. The reason our project is expanding is because American Profile made millions of people in America aware of the project that did not know about it before.
In the coming months, I will be available on a national basis for television, radio and newspaper interviews to make Americans aware of this great resource that can make a difference in their own community, and it does not cost taxpayers a penny. We get great support from local politicians, but not so much on the state and national level because we don’t use tax money. As you know, in most cases tax money is tied to votes. We don’t care about votes, because literacy is a non-partisan issue. We just want to help these special children develop the skills to help them succeed. Go to our website to learn more:
(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.)