6-year old wants to open up the world of reading

There are not many 6-year-old girls who want to make sure her classmates understand the importance of reading.

Meet Parkside Elementary first grader Selah Thompson. That is exactly what she did.

Selah came home upset after the first day in kindergarten last year at the Grant Park school.

“A lot of her friends didn’t know how to read, didn’t know their site words or the alphabet,” said her dad Khalil Thompson. “She was saddened and wanted to do something to help.”

After doing some research, asking tough questions and trying to find where the problem originated, The Empowered Readers Literacy Project was born.

Their goal on the website is “to tackle literacy by helping families build strong reading rituals and by getting kids excited about reading.”

On Jan. 19, the Atlanta-based nonprofit will hold The March to 20Hundred Thousand Books: A Children’s March for Literacy. The book drive starts at 9 a.m. in the Gold Lot at Turner Field.

Their goal was to have 500 people participate. They already have 700 registered.

Children can dress as any character from their favorite book for the half-mile walk along Georgia Avenue to Martin Luther Jr. King Middle School.

Along the way, the group will be planting free libraries, which are oversized mailboxes where you can take a book and leave book.

The Thompson’s hope to collect two million books, raise $30,000 and plant 24 more libraries ($500 each) around town.

They want to get books in the hands of children before they start school.

“We want to get in front of people and get kids interested in reading,” said Nicole Thompson, Selah’s mother and executive director of the organization. “So often children are distracted. We want them to embrace active reading.”

Khalil, who works for IBM and is the “creative guy” for the group, and Nicky, a civil rights attorney, have seen first hand how excited children get when they are able to read.

“So we read to (Selah) when she was still in the womb and have been reading to her since the day she was born,” the father said.

The couple also have another daughter who is 2 years old

“We need to reinforce reading rituals. We have seen first hand when kids have books that excite them, they get ready excited about reading,” Nicole said.

Selah, who turns seven Jan. 19, said, “I love books so much that I decided to write my own.”

Her book is called Penelope the Pirate Princess.

More information: https://www.empoweredreaders.org/