No. 1140



If you read my column on a regular basis you will recall a few weeks ago I talked about the “Tragic Consequences of Illiteracy.” In that column, I shared what is happening in Little Rock, our capital city, regarding drive-by shootings and other forms of violence. At the time, I stated that I believe illiteracy is the root cause for much of the violence we have here and all across the nation. When it comes to seeking a solution for the problem of drive-by shootings, I have never heard anyone comment that these people could be reading books to better themselves, rather than riding around shooting up the town and murdering innocent people.

The simple truth of the matter is this: the real winners in life are readers, and most illiterates are losers. The positive thing about all this is that you, me and every other literate person has the power to change this, at least for future generations. As one concerned citizen to another, I am asking you to get involved by talking with others in your town or city about starting a Bookcase for Every Child project. It is all about “giving back,” as no one earns a penny, and we all have a better nation and future for our children and grandchildren.

You know you are on the right track when the Arkansas Campaign for Grade Level Reading (AR-GLR) reports that only 31 percent of third-graders are reading at grade level. What this means is that 69 percent of our state’s third-graders are NOT reading at grade level, the desired bench mark. While other states may be doing better, I bet most have similar educational problems as we have here in Arkansas. One thing I can promise you is that if each of these children were given a personalized bookcase and a starter set of books when they were 4 years of age, this would not be the case. It is such a small investment when you think about the future of a child and also the future of our nation.

The real question for me has become, “how will we get the word out to millions of Americans who can help to change this dire picture?” To be sure, we need a plan, and this is why I am issuing this “Call to Action.” I assure you that those of us involved in our Bookcase for Every Child project are committed to the project. I will be happy to do national television interviews, make speeches, encourage people to visit our website (, Janis will promote our cause on Facebook, and with your help encourage as many of our literate citizens as possible to purchase and read my new book “My Heartfelt Passion.”

Due to the fact that our situation is so dire, I am more than happy to issue this personal challenge: A part of good American citizenship is “giving back” and making a contribution to our nation. There is no better way to do this than to make it possible for children in low-income families to develop good literacy skills and be able to read, write, and communicate. In some measure this will insure they have the opportunity to succeed in life and carry on the traditions that have made our nation the greatest in the history of mankind. What makes this Bookcase for Every Child project so appealing and valuable is that we require the use of no tax money or grants of any kind.

The people in positions of leadership, and especially our nation’s policy makers, are those who get things done. Therefore my challenge is to the President of the United States, members of Congress, our nation’s governors, members of state Legislatures and leaders and other policy makers all across this great land.
(Editor’s Note: THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY – Begin your day on a positive note – 365 days for $12. This will benefit the Bookcase for Every Child project. Go to to subscribe.)