First Charity of 2019 is…

I told y’all my intention is to donate to different non-profit organizations each month with the goal of donating $1000 for the calendar year. I’ve selected my first one. The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation.

Their primary focus is to have Houston area children reading at grade level by third grade. They’ve created an online tool that enables anyone to find literacy-related volunteer opportunities in their area. And my favorite of all, children can create a wish list of books they want and the organization will work to fulfill the wish list by working with partners and donors.

They have a high rating on both Charity Navigator and Guidestar.

Very happy to support an organization tackling literacy in my city and will use their online tool to volunteer later this year!

One Day

Being unemployed gives one plenty of time to think. Time to think about work. Time to think about life. Time to think about the big picture, as they say. And I’ve been thinking.

There are things I’d like to do at some point. Lots of traveling, duhh. Side note: visiting BOSTON in April! But there are also goals that some would consider lofty. I don’t. Not out of arrogance, but because I know me. I know what happens when I push myself. I know what happens when I challenge myself. I know the only limits that’ll be placed upon me are those I’ll place upon myself. Which is why I don’t limit myself in anything.

But let me get back to the point here. I’ve known for quite some time now that I plan on pursuing public office later in life. I don’t think for a second it’ll be easy or simple, heck, I think it’d be the most difficult thing I ever pursue. But I can’t tell you how strongly I feel about this. I may never become an elected official, but there will come a time in which my name is on the ballot. Because I won’t accept that it’s too hard.

Do you believe that I’ve said all this and I haven’t reached the point of this post yet? Ha!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about causes and issues I want to tackle. I mean, I’m about to turn 25. And boy, there are many. But that whole unemployment thing is quite limiting. So I’ve been thinking more than I’ve been doing. I’ve decided to start a nonprofit organization to promote literacy. Again, there’s no timeframe for this. But some people gain satisfaction from money or material possessions, but me? I’d love nothing more than to go to work each day with a small group of people promoting literacy.
I know what you’re thinking. Why not volunteer for an organization or work for one? I could. I’m not taking that off the table. I’ll just have to see what happens.

My message to you is this: I know some of the things I’m going to fight for and support throughout my life, and I imagine more will come into focus along the way. The causes and issues you care about are guaranteed to be different from mine. And that’s great! Because there’s no shortage of incredible causes around the world. Find what you’re passionate about and do something about it. So many people think it’s only about money. It isn’t. Maybe volunteer in your city. Maybe share the link to an ongoing fundraiser. Maybe use your blog to talk about an organization you’re involved with.

Now tell me about just one cause or organization you’re really passionate about. You know one of mine is literacy. I’ll share another. Hunger. My brother will tell you how much I HATE seeing people just throw away food. Now tell me what you’re passionate about!

James Patterson to be Honored by LA Times

Cue the eye rolls from everyone reading. James Patterson will be given the Innovator’s Award at the 36th LA Times Book Prizes this year. Now these awards aren’t exactly on par with winning a Pulitzer or Nobel or National Book Award, but I imagine any author nominated would be extremely proud and satisfied.

The people behind these awards likely know books and writing better than the average reader. Which is why I think people should take note when things like this happen. Everyone wants to make Patterson out to be this bad guy in publishing. But no one thinks about how many millions of kids are reading his young adult series. No one thinks about how many kids had no interest in reading before picking up one of his books. All everyone sees is money, and that’s just ridiculous.

I know some people will find this news to be laughable, but I don’t. I think he’s highly deserving. He gets kids reading. There’s no denying it.

What do you think of Patterson being honored by the LA Times?

If I Won the Powerball…

Leading up to Wednesday’s drawing #IfIWonthePowerball was trending on Twitter. People from all over the country were describing what they’d do with their pile of cash. Because you know, everyone just knew they’d be the winner.

For my international readers, the Powerball is one of several different lotteries we have in the US. There hadn’t been a winner in 20 drawings and the prize exploded to nearly $1.6 billion. Yes, billion. Three winners will split the prize after Wednesday’s drawing.

Moving on. The lump sum option of the jackpot came out to around $187 million after taxes. So here’s what I’d do with that money.

I’d hire a team of financial advisors and accountants.

I’d donate no less than $10 million to my local animal shelter because those animals and volunteers need resources a lot more than I need that money.

I’d donate $1 million to my local library system.

I’d donate $1 million in books to my local school district and pay to have all textbooks updated to current editions.

I’d start a non-profit organization to promote literacy at the elementary level.

I’d build a 4,500 square foot home in which bookshelves line every wall.

I’d visit every historic library in the world.

I’d launch a scholarship program for any students who have a great interest in books.

I’d launch a separate scholarship program for students interested in pursuing any kind of writing degree.

I’d donate no less than $5 million to the Lone Survivor Foundation.

I’d give every member of my immediate family a $10,000 gift card to Half Price Books.

Lastly, I’d buy first row season tickets to the Astros, Texans, and Rockets for the rest of my life.

After all of that I’d be left with more money than I could ever spend. But I don’t need $187 million to be happy or to do good things. I’ll do just fine without it.

What would you do if you’d won the Powerball?

Some Good and Some Bad all at Once

I’ve written before about McDonald’s giving away books in their Happy Meals, and now they’re doing it again. This time in the UK. So now you know the good. But there’s also some bad.

The books are some of Roald Dahl’s most beloved titles. Not the full books, but short excerpts. So why do I think this is bad? Well Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one of the worst books I’ve ever read all the way through. It was terrible. I’m not ashamed to say that I pretty much hated every part of it. And now 14 million kids will be reading his words over the next six weeks.

Why not throw in some Potter excerpts? Rowling would have been my choice if it were up to me. But of course I have no say in the matter. Props to McDonald’s for once again promoting literacy, but I really wish they’d have picked another author. Oh well.

What do you think of another book giveaway by McDonald’s? Or more importantly, what do you think of Dahl’s work?

On this day in 2014 I published Read a Banned Book This Week.


Books Can’t Solve Everything

I’m pretty sure that if you have TV, then you know about something that happened in the US recently. In Baltimore people decided the best way to call for change in policing would be to riot and loot businesses. This was headline news for some time. And now James Patterson says he was inspired by those events and he wants to help them rebuild in some way. So he’s donating 25,000 copies of one of his children’s books.

I have no issue with Patterson. He’s one of my favorite authors. He does a lot more good for books and literacy than most people give him credit for, but he’s off base here. There are still many things that cities across America (including Baltimore) need to change. I’m talking law enforcement, but we all know it doesn’t start and stop there.  And sure books can fit somewhere into that equation, but right now this one book isn’t going to do anything. The people who have the ability to bring about significant change aren’t going to be pushed to action because of this book. And change isn’t going to happen because of this book.

James Patterson is going to donate many more books to many more causes in the future, but I think he could have done this donation a bit more quietly. Without talking about being inspired by recent events. Cause it doesn’t change anything. It isn’t up to me to tell him how to spend his money and donate his books, but he really could have helped by donating money to the police department earmarked for more advanced training. At least that would really address one of the major issues facing the city.

What do you think about Patterson being inspired by the unrest in Baltimore and deciding to donate books?

On this day in 2014 I published Why do you Read?.


Since When is it Acceptable to Criticize Someone’s Reading Ability?

I’m talking about someone in the public eye who I imagine you will know as soon I say their name. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. I know, I know. I have no issue criticizing him for his fight performances. I have no issue criticizing him for his history of domestic abuse. I have no issue criticizing him for his attitude and cockiness. But I won’t be criticizing him for the fact that he can’t read.

Anyone who keeps up with sports knows that Floyd’s been called out multiple times for his reading by people trying to discredit him in some way. Why is that okay? Because he’s ultra rich? Because he doesn’t seem to care that people keep bringing it up? Because he has a criminal record? I want to know. It’s ridiculous. I know many will probably struggle to sympathize with him, but I say that says more about you than it does him.

Is it his fault that he can’t read? No. Do you really think he likes that he can’t read? No. He doesn’t. I’m not going to sit here and tell you to respect him as a person, but I will ask that you act like a decent human being toward him. Even if others don’t. He can’t read and there are so many reasons why that is bad for the rest of us. There are kids growing up exactly as he is without that necessary ability, and they likely won’t be as fortunate as he’s been. So think about them.

On this day in 2014 I published Would you Write a Book That you Knew Would not be Read for 100 Years?.