No. 917



It’s been said, “a new idea is fragile, as it can be killed by a sneer, a yawn or a raised eyebrow on the right person’s forehead.”
Personally, I know this is true as I have seen it many times in my more than 40 years as a writer, columnist, speaker and educational consultant. In reality, good ideas only thrive and succeed, first, if they are worthy and, second, if the person who has the idea is so committed they will not take “No” for an answer. They just keep coming back and coming back until others listen and take action, and then it takes off and flies.
Such was the case for an idea we had here in Conway back in 2005 that came to be known as the Conway Bookcase Project. It was my idea, and with the help of our former Police Chief Randall Aragon, we convinced a number of our leading citizens (at least those who knew the value of literacy) to support the idea of building quality, personalized oak bookcases for children being reared in low-income families. What is truly unique is that our project is community wide and we use no tax money or grants of any kind.
The project was based on the old concept of giving back -- when someone had a need, this need was met by others who had no thoughts of personal gain. The need here was real, because 61 percent of low-income families in our nation have no books in the home for their children to read. If you have children or grandchildren you know how critical this is. Without having a good vocabulary and some basic literacy skills when they enter kindergarten, children will fall behind very quickly, which can lead to dropping out of school, dependency, crime, illegal drug use, unwanted pregnancy and severely limited long-term success.
Our Conway project is made up of all volunteers, and we provide 50 bookcases each year. We hold an annual Awards Ceremony to present the bookcases to the children and their parents. This past April we had our ninth annual Awards Ceremony and this brought the total to 450 of these bookcases, along with a starter set of pre-school children’s books for each child. We have also branched out, as there are now projects in other Arkansas cities and four other states that are building and presenting bookcases to needy children in their community.
There are countless other literacy projects across the nation and we applaud every one of them. Improving literacy is everyone’s job, as illiteracy impacts every person in our country, either positively or negatively. The cost of illiteracy each year runs into billions of dollars, from an economic standpoint, but the human loss of self-esteem, lost opportunity and issues like domestic violence is even greater. Here is what I hope you will consider and be a part of doing something about. While other literacy projects help, there is only one Bookcase for Every Child project, and if you would like to confirm this, go to or and type in Conway Bookcase Project or Bookcase for Every Child and you will see what I am saying is true.
Here is the bottom line: Every community in America needs a bookcase project, because our approach is not just giving bookcases and books, or even reading to children. Rather, our approach is to bring the whole community together to focus on the problem of illiteracy. We have an annual Fundraiser Banquet to raise the funds to buy the wood and supplies, and the annual Awards Ceremony when we give the bookcases to our children. These events reach even more of our citizens. I think the last awards ceremony was our best and if you would like to have a free DVD to have an even greater understanding, contact me, Jim Davidson, 2 Bentley Dive, Conway, AR 72034 or e-mail Together we are making a difference.
(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.)