Almost nobody knows better than Trish Terrell, an award-winning author from Lumberton who uses the pen name p.m. terrell, just how much illiteracy affects this region of North Carolina. And there are few who are doing as much to wage a battle against it.
Last week, and for the third straight year, Terrell was been the driving force for the Book ‘Em North Carolina event at Robeson Community College. Promoted as an authors’ conference and book fair, its main focus is really an effort to not only give authors some prime exposure but to raise money for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (40 percent of all book sales went to that worthy cause).
Along with Terrell, there was an army of about 200 volunteers to make sure the event ran smooth. And it did, attracting about 4,000 visitors to the event. Along with the volunteers and about 75 authors, there were special guests like Miss North Carolina Johna Edmonds, whose platform is illiteracy, as well as the Tar Heel Traveler Scott Mason, New York Times best-selling author Bob Mayer and others.
Victor Hugo, an early 19th century French novelist, once wrote: “To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”
Hugo was exactly right, and both Terrell and Edmonds have embraced it as they chip away at the darkness that illiteracy continues to envelope so many in right in our own back yards.
In fact, there is an as yet small movement to perhaps create a Book ‘Em type of event here in Bladen County, where illiteracy is just as much of a challenge as it is anywhere — and at least two Bladen County authors participated in the event last weekend. We hope to reveal more about that as additional pages get added to the plan.
But for now, we will offer our kudos to Terrell for the incredible effort she has made over the past three years. And we look forward to next year’s event, which is already in the planning stages.
The war on illiteracy should end only when all school-age children can read the words, recognize why they were arranged accordingly and understand what they mean.
And that spark should come from those of us who are blessed with the ability to read and write.