It is with a humble and grateful heart that I announce the publication of my new book — the New Revised Edition of "Learning, Earning & Giving Back." This book is unique for several reasons, certainly not because I am the author, but the foremost reason is because the printing was paid for by supporters of the "Bookcase for Every Child" project. To begin, at the urging of a state press director, in 2003 I published a book of my columns to sell and use the proceeds to aid various literacy projects, namely the Newspapers in Education program. This was the original version of "Learning, Earning & Giving Back."

As time progressed, with the help of a number of my fellow citizens here in Conway, in 2005 we started the "Bookcase for Every Child" project, still selling my book with the proceeds being used to purchase materials to build the bookcases. Then in 2008, the best fundraising idea the Lord has ever given me came along, namely for our committee to host a Bookcase Literacy Banquet and invite the whole community to attend and be a part of the project. In the next few weeks we will be hosting our fourth banquet, with last year’s being a sell-out. For $15.95 anyone can attend, receive a delicious meal, some great local entertainment and be given a complimentary copy of my book. Part of the proceeds is used for seed money for other projects.

However, the book was just a collection of my columns, and I personally paid for the first 10,000 copies, but it had nothing to do with our project, the need to improve literacy and as a way to bring awareness to the plight of children being reared in low-income families who have few, if any, books to read in their formative years. 

As a result, many of these children later drop out of school because they lack basic language, vocabulary and communication skills. No need to tell you the life facing a young person who is a school drop-out: According to The National Institute for Literacy, 85 percent of all juvenile offenders rate as functionally or marginally illiterate.

Long story short, I saw the need to have a book that was a basic self-improvement book that would help any person to live a happy, successful and fulfilled life, while at the same time making it clear that literacy was the foundation for success in any endeavor in our modern society. The book has been published and paid for by 143 of our supporters, mostly from Conway, whose names are printed in the final section. The final section also includes a list of books that I have read and highly recommend and The Coach Garrison Challenge, issued by Coach Cliff Garrison. Cliff is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and was coach and Athletic Director at Hendrix College for 31 years. You will love his challenge.

The Governor and the Arkansas General Assembly have recognized our project and it’s now spreading to other communities. My vision has always been to have thousands of communities across America have a "Bookcase for Every Child" project to help children in their community. Our project was featured in the American Profile magazine in August 2011, fourth largest in the nation with a readership of 10 million, and the response has been nothing short of amazing. Every person who attends a Bookcase Literacy Banquet anywhere in the nation will receive a copy of my new book or send a $20 non-tax deductible donation to Bookcase for Every Child, 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. No one associated with our project earns a penny as it’s all about giving back. We don’t use any tax money or grants of any kind.

(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.)