nav bar syllabus projects student pages news 'n notes home
First Place Essay

Reading Can Get You to Success.

By Addison Carpenter

Special to Planet Gnosis
Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013

There is an important reason your parents and teachers want you to read.  Yeah, they want you to be a fluent reader, but reading also can get you to success!  These are my opinions for why reading is important and the benefits it gives you.

Reading is a good, fun, and easy skill to have.  Many people don’t like to read, but once you sit down and start reading a book that is in the genre you like, you won’t be able to stop.

Every day, you should take 15-30 minutes out of your schedule to read a book or something that interests you.  The more you read the more words you run into, and you will eventually use them in your everyday vocabulary.  Everything you read fills your head with new bits of information, and you never know when it might come in handy.

Reading also aids in your career.  Those who are well-read, well-spoken, and knowledgeable on a variety of topics will get jobs quickly.

There are many good books I have read.  One is called “The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas.”  Others are “Penny from Heaven” and “Smile.”  I like many different books, but these are like my top favorites.

My favorite book genres are mystery and fiction.  I also like book series and comics.  Comics are fun to read even if you don’t like reading.

Reading is a fun hobby.  I really recommend it, so I hope you take my advice.

Lamp of Knowledge

About Addison....

The daughter of Archie and Alice Carpenter, Addison attends Holt Middle School in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  She is 12 years old and a young scholar in the seventh grade.

"Addison loves to dance and listen to music," Alice said.  "She says it's just a hobby.  She also loves to take pictures.  She enjoys sports and plays softball and basketball."

Addison is historian for the student council at Holt.  "I love to read," she said.  "When I grow up I want to be a nurse and follow in my mom's footsteps."  Mrs. Carpenter is a registered nurse with the Veterans Administration health care system in northwest Arkansas.

Alex and Jarvis are Addison's two big brothers.

Lamp of Knowledge
The 2013 "Teach me how to read...."
Literacy Essay Contest Honors Student Writers
At Panel for the Importance of Literacy.

Black Business Directory of Northwest Arkansas

Special to Planet Gnosis
Posted on Thursday, August 15, 2013

Winners of the “Teach me how to read....” Literacy Contest were honored on Thursday evening, August 8, at the Ozarks Electric Community Room in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Brandus Mitchell, age 10, and Addison Carpenter, age 12, each won $150 for essays about the importance of reading.  Each child was also awarded a $4,000 publishing contract through TGIM Digital Publishing of Kansas City, Missouri.  The Umoja Soul Writers Group, the Northwest Arkansas Democratic Black Caucus, NWA Ebony Kids, and the Black Business Directory sponsored the contest.

The awards ceremony followed a panel discussion, “The Importance of Literacy,” focusing on minority children in northwest Arkansas.  Panelists were Leora Jackson, Michael Lafears, Jr., and Rhonda Holmes of the Umoja Soul Writers Group and Diana Gonzales Worthen of OneCommunity.  Leah Williams, a member of the Bentonville City Council, served as moderator.

Learning to Read, Reading to Learn

Panelists discussed cultural issues and educational opportunities related to literacy.  “We are a part of the Arkansas Grade-Level Reading (AR-GLR) Campaign where the goal is for every third grader to read on grade level by 2020,” Mrs. Gonzales Worthen said.  “Third grade marks a critical period in a child’s life.  From kindergarten to third grade, children are learning to read and from third and up, they are reading to learn.”

Mrs. Gonzales Worthen showed the audience bilingual books used in OneCommunity’s "Feed Your Brain-Alimenta Tu Cerebro Reading Club."  The books allow Spanish-speaking parents to read to their children in their native language, while their children are reading in both English in Spanish.

“It’s not just about dropping your kids off for story time, but rather for us to show parents how to better utilize bilingual tools to support reading efforts for their children at home,” she said.  OneCommunity is an AR-GLR Community Solutions Initiative Finalist funded by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation to assist in Literacy efforts in the Latino and Marshallese communities.

A Beacon in the Fight for Freedom

Michael Lafears, Jr., said he wants to give literacy more value and respect in light of the struggles that African Americans faced during slavery.  Slaves weren’t allowed to learn how to read, he reminded the audience.  “I don’t take literacy lightly.  Rather, it is something that I cherish as very important to me,” Mr. Lafears said.  “My ancestors had to hide a book from the slave masters, and if they were caught, they would get punished severely.  Therefore, because they fought for our freedom, I want to pass this freedom on to my children.

“We as African Americans must teach the history of our ancestors’ struggle and their journey to learn to read.  We must teach why it was so important to them then and why literacy is important today,” Mr. Lafears continued.  “The best way to pay honor and tribute to the mothers and fathers before us is to take advantage of the opportunities that are currently available, opportunities partly provided by their past sacrifices.”

Author of a volume of poetry, Words from the Speaking Soul… Life’s Unheard Cries, Mr. Lafears said he “reads and writes to express myself.  I want my daughter to have this ability and to pass it on to her children.”  He agreed with the other panelists that literacy begins at home and is enforced at school through parent involvement and teacher support.

A Spiritual Perspective to Overcoming Negativity

“I look at things from a spiritual perspective,” Rhonda Holmes, author of The Word Diet, a life-creating devotional book, told the audience.  “Because the words that we believe and speak will direct and create our behavior and outcomes, I encourage parents and all those who serve our families to only speak about the desired outcome as an expectation instead of focusing on reported statistics.”  Mrs. Holmes emphasized that if we continue to focus on and talk about negative reports, our children will accept, expect, and act out the resulting negative outcomes.

Mrs. Holmes spoke about ways to eliminate negative attitudes and negative images that contribute to problems with literacy.  She mentioned the “Smart is the New Gangsta!” t-shirt, one of many created by DNBE (, a small business whose mission is to promote positive messages, knowledge, and intellectual curiosity to youth.  DNBE focuses on fashion, entertainment, and media to combat the negative messages young people are bombarded with every day.

Leora Jackson, a poet and essayist who writes under the penname F. L. Jones, said parents have to plant the seed of literacy early in a child’s development.  “Develop a home reading and vocabulary routine and stick with it,” she said.  “Don’t expect the teachers and community to do it all.  The real teaching starts with parents as the first role model.”

Author of Candy Apple Poetry and Cotton Candy: Sweet Poems for the Soul, Mrs. Jackson said she reads to her four-year-old son every night.  “If there is a time that he does not get a bedtime story, it is because he was punished for a behavior,” she said.  “Of course, he is not very happy when his book time is suspended.  He has grown to expect his bedtime story as part of his daily medication.  Even the babysitters are expected to read to him or he will tattletale — and, of course, I will not be happy with the babysitters!”

D’Andre Jones, president of the NWA Democratic Black Caucus, said more focus needs to be on the early pre-K settings and on educating parents.  "I believe that parents don’t realize the importance of what reading can do if they don’t know the statistics of it," Mr. Jones said.  "If there is a way to emphasize those numerical gaps that shows kids with high reading levels vs. low reading levels, maybe parents would get it and try to read more to their children.”

Brandus and Addison Read to the Audience

After the panel discussion, essay winners Brandus and Addison each had a turn to read their essay to the audience and talk about why reading is important to them.  Both children will be “signing a contract” with Eric Jones, president of TGIM Publishing, sometime later this month.  Members of TGIM’s staff from Kansas City will be traveling to Arkansas to meet these young writers and their parents to sign them as TGIM authors.  The first project for publication of their writing is The Bully Diaries, part of the best-selling Pieces of Me series.

Every student writer in the essay contest walked away a winner.  For their participation, young writers won a free e-book from TGIM, Stories of Hope, a new release written by youth participating in "Writing for the Soul Workshops" around the world.  This opportunity was made possible through collaboration between TGIM, Umoja Soul Writers Group, and other community partners in Northwest Arkansas.

This wonderful event ended with Rhonda Holmes leading the audience in a “Literacy Confession,” declaring that, “in Jesus’ Name, we and our children read, comprehend, understand and excel.  We see opportunities to excel all the time... and take them!  We take, live, and do excellence!”

“Thanks to all for participating, especially our children and volunteers,” contest and panel coordinator Leora Jackson said.  “Let us continue to make a difference in the life of a child.”

Lamp of Knowledge
lamp of knowledge goto

The Other Winner:  Brandus Mitchell
The other winner in the literacy essay contest is Brandus Mitchell, a 10-year-old scholar from Holt Middle School in Fayetteville.  Brandus' essay is also featured here on the Multicultural Issues web.  Kindly click and go!

rainbow goto

"Teach Me How to Read...." Book Drive
If you're reading this in early August, 2013, then it's not too late to contribute a book or two for the edification of young readers in northwest Arkansas.  The Northwest Arkansas Democratic Black Causus, Umoja Soul Writers Group, and Ebony Kids of NWA are sponsoring the drive.  Please bring your old or new multicultural and bilingual books to any of six locations in Fayetteville, Bentonville, and Springdale.  You'll find the exact locations in the document on the other side of this link.

rainbow goto

"Teach Me How to Read...." Literacy Contest
Although the contest came to a close in late July, this document serves as an instructive record of an innovative approach to teaching literacy.  Youngsters and teenagers aged seven to 17 were invited to submit a short essay about the importance and benefits of reading.

fb goto

Black Business Directory of Northwest Arkansas
Leora Jackson's facebook page for her organization will connect you to a network visited by successful and innovative business owners in northwest Arkansas.  It'something good to like.

fb goto

The WORD Diet
How can you create your extraordinary life with your own words? Rhonda Bell Holmes offers stimulating answers to some of life's most meaningful problems in The WORD Diet.  It'something good to like.


contact link

Leora Jackson
is coordinating the panel discussion and the summer literacy campaign. You can contact her by e-mail at, or by phone at 901-340-1966.

contact link

Terri Walker
directs the outreach efforts of Ebony Kids of Northwest Arkansas. You can contact Terri by e-mail at, or by phone at 512-694-8286.



social media