I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Upper Bucks Free Press (the newspaper I write for) for the November issue! The online version was just published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE (see page 17). Plus – I did my first book signing! I have a little bit about it after the article!
Local Author Helps People One Book at a Time
Bucks County author, William Bentrim, spent ten years in education as a teacher and guidance counselor. Now he writes books that he hopes will benefit all people who read them.
Erik – You worked for a non-profit organization that helped with illiteracy in places like the Bucks County Prison. Can you tell us about that?
Mr. Bentrim – I was on the board of Vita Education Services. As a board member I did not participate in the actual literacy instruction. However one of our meetings was at the Bucks County Prison. There we met inmates who were in the program. One thirty something inmate proudly told us he had just read a book, the first book he had ever read. Incarcerated for various violent crimes, he said that because he had been illiterate he couldn’t do many things literate people take for granted. Reading instructions on a gas pump or signs in restaurants were beyond this person’s ability. He said that when people treated him as if he were stupid, he lashed out, violently. He stated that he was making sure his daughter learned to read so she wouldn’t end up in prison too. I found this man’s frankness and newly found passion to read very powerful.
Erik – A 2009 National Center for Education Statistics report said that 9% of Bucks County adults are illiterate. That’s over 60,000 people! Why do you think that is?
Mr. Bentrim – I feel that the family structure is shuddering under the impact of economic woes. The fact that many, many families can not survive without both parents working means there is little time for parents to positively impact their children. These parents drop their kids at baseball or soccer and don’t participate even as spectators. The parents are too busy to read themselves consequently kids don’t have parents as role models for responsibility or literacy. Generally if kids see friends and family reading, they too read. If all they see are video games and TV they have little impetus to pick up a book.
Erik – As an author and educator, what do you think our community can do to combat illiteracy?
Mr. Bentrim – Teachers and parents need to accurately assess their children’s interests. If you have a good idea what a kid enjoys, you can always find something they will want to read. Presentation is so important. A motor head may not have any interest but tweaking the engine in their car but if you find them a book or magazine that shows them how to eke out 10 more horsepower, they will devour it. Things like Quidditch tournaments or Renaissance Fairs can tie activities to reading. A good librarian can make a world of difference. As a child I was lucky enough to enjoy a small public library with a librarian who saw what I read and found similar works for me to enjoy. She introduced me to books I would never have found on my own. She got my Dad to intervene with the Library staff to get me and adult library card when I was in fifth grade. That card opened up the rest of the library and hooked me for life.
Bottom line is that reading needs to be nurtured by the people who know their kids.
Erik – Your website states that you write books to have positive messages in them even though they cover some tough subjects. What do you hope people will learn from your books?
Mr. Bentrim – I got an email last week from a Girl Scout leader in Tennessee who thanked me for writing Mommy’s Black Eye and for the domestic violence resources on my web site. Her girls are preparing for October being National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
A review on Hardy Belch and The Green Man posted this weekend, stated that the reviewers daughter got the message that being different doesn’t mean you are a monster.
The shortest girl in fifth grade told me that Short or Tall, Doesn’t Matter At All made her feel better about herself.
This is what I want kids and parents to learn. I want them to read for fun but I want kids to think well about themselves and others. A love or reading directly impacts success. The ability to read manuals and instructions can translate into success in video games and sports. The ability to read text books and comprehend what you read translates into good grades. The ability to read fiction can soothe the soul after a troubling week. Reading isn’t limited to paper, it isn’t confined to eBooks, reading is one of the most important factors in personal growth. I truly believe that a love of reading can translate to being a happier, healthier person.
To learn more please visit www.bentrim.info
For more on books visit ThisKidReviewsBooks.com !
Follow Mr. Bentrim of Twitter HERE!
Now for some cool news I have for you!
I had my first book signing! I was a part of The REPUBLICAN Herald’s Annual Family Reading Festival at the Fairlane Village Mall in Pottsville, PA on Saturday!
I was VERY excited to have my first official book signing (and was really amazed that people wanted to talk to me about my book)!
There’s me Tomato, Pea and Wintergreen (in front of me)!
I also got to sign some books!
I had stuffed Tomatoes, Peas and Wintergreens for sale at my table. I had a coloring page of the SS Poofy and a craft to make your own Tomato and Pea puppets (thank you for the suggestion Stanley and Katrina!). Kids seemed to like the craft!
I got to meet and/or see again some authors I am HUGE fans of like -
Artie Bennett – Author of ”Poopendous” and “The Butt Book” and a SUPER nice guy!
Lindsay Barrett George! Ms. George was one of the first authors I ever got to meet and talk to back when I was in third grade. She gave me a lot of inspiration and encouragement and I remember that. I was very happy to be able to meet her again and happy to be able to meet the real Maggie!
I also got to talk to Alison Ashley Formento, who is super fun to talk to and writes awesome picture books!
I also got to talk to Kathy M. Miller again (and Chippy (and this time I didn’t have to be Chippy )). I want to especially thank Ms. Miller because she told me about the event and encouraged me to apply to be an author at it. She also gave me great advice on how to sell my book and what I should be doing at the event! She helped me a TON! :)
And, of course, I can’t go to a Reading Festival without getting some books! Here is my booty from the event!
I got to do a reading from my book. I was very nervous about it but think it went pretty well. I got some smiles from the audience.
Above all I want to give a big thanks to my mom for driving me to the event and Josie because Mom and I had to miss her go-kart race (she and Dad went there while we went to the festival) and my aunt Cheryl and Grandmom Pam for helping out too!
ONE MORE THING!
Just to give you an update on Reading for Renn – The donations are coming in now that I have finished my Reading For Renn challenge. I will post about the total I raised as soon as all the donations come in. Thank you for all of your support!