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Arts and Entertainment

Young authors encourage kids to read
Celebrity kids and local youngsters want to make reading cool
Published Wednesday, June 19, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

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Bria Williams (left) and Reginae Carter will be at Books A Million in Concord Mills June 22 signing copies of their new book "Paparazzi Princesses."

It’s summertime, and even though school is in recess until late August, many students across the country are busy tackling their summer reading lists.

While some students find reading to be a joy, others find books to be boring and would rather spend their time doing anything else.

A new crop of young authors are on a mission to encourage their peers to read more often by writing books that appeal to their interests.

Even rapper Dwayne “Lil’ Wayne” Carter’s record label Cash Money Records is taking part in the movement.

Cash Money Content, the publishing arm of the company, announced a new initiative – The Young Readers Force. The mission is simply to spread the message that reading is important.

As part of the initiative, Lil Wayne’s daughter Reginae Carter penned a book titled “Paparazzi Princesses” with Cash Money Records co-founder Bryan “Birdman” Williams’ daughter Bria Williams.

Carter explains that while the book is fiction, it is based on true events and experiences from her and Williams’ lives in the spotlight.

“Over the summer, we have to read books for school,” said Williams. “So, we just decided to create a fun summer book for everybody to read.”

The 14-year-old besties will be in Charlotte June 22 for a book signing at the Books-A-Million Concord Mills location.

The girls say they want other kids to understand that reading can be fun, entertaining and educational at the same time.

“A lot of people don’t read these days,” said Carter. “It’s not just kids and teenagers. Some adults don’t read. We just want to get the word out to everyone about reading.”

Williams said she reads about 10 books year and is a big fan of the “Pretty Little Liars” series.

“That’s the only books I like to read,” she said, adding that the bulk of her reading material comes from school assignments.

Carter, who estimates that she reads about 12 books a year, is currently reading Hill Harper’s “Letters to a Young Sister.” She said her mom Toya Wright, who is a reality-TV star and New York Times bestselling author, inspired her to write a book.

“I would go on some of her books tours,” said Carter. “She influenced me to write this book because she is very intelligent and independent.”

The girls say they hope “Paparazzi Princesses” is a big hit because they plan to follow it up with a sequel.

Something for the boys

However, Carter and Williams will have some competition from the number of talented young authors coming up in the Queen City.

Logan E. Mauldin, 10

The local list of kiddie authors includes 10-year-old Logan Mauldin.

Mauldin wrote his first book titled “Step Up Your Game to Win the Game” at age 8. The book is about his experience playing basketball for two teams while maintaining his status as an A/B student.

Mauldin said he was inspired to become an author after watching an episode of “20/20” with his mom.

“The show was talking about why girls read better than boys,” he said. “One of the reasons was that girls have more materials geared towards them than boys.”

He found that fact to be disappointing. He was also disheartened to learn that states were projecting the number of prison and jail cells they would need based on the number of Black males failing reading in the third grade.

“That upsets me,” said Mauldin. However, he didn’t just get upset. He decided to take action. He wrote the book, hoping it would appeal to the interest of his male peers and encourage them to read more.

Mauldin’s favorite books include the popular “Diary of Wimpy Kid” series and Captain Underpants books.

He understands that some of his peers don’t like reading but wants them to understand that it is necessary.

“It’s just something that you have to do to make a better life,” he said. “You can get a better job. The more you know and read, the better your life will be.”

Like her son, Mauldin’s mother Angela Mauldin, was dismayed to hear the startling statistics about literacy and black male students.

“It’s a shame,” she said. “As parents, we can’t continue to blame the system. We have to take responsibility and we have to take action to ensure that we are encouraging our children to read.”

Mauldin said he reads an average of two books a month and is currently working on the concept for his next project. He’s considering writing about a character that wishes his toy frog to life or another book on sports. It would be similar to his first book but would talk about football instead of basketball.

When asked how he comes up with ideas, he said: “I just have a big imagination.”

Never too young

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Lauryn Marie Burks, 6

He’s not the only one with an active imagination. At the age of 5, Lauryn Marie Burks became an author before she could write a complete sentence.

One day while rushing to get dressed, Lauryn remarked how much easier it would be if she had 100 hands. Her father Robert Burks thought it sounded like a great concept for a story.

Later that night, he and wife Kim asked Lauryn to expand on the idea. What would she do with 100 hands? She rattled off her list of things she’d do and the adventures she’d take if she had 50 pair of hands.

Her parents dictated her ideas and worked with an illustrator to publish the book “My 100 Hands” about Lauryn and all her digits.

Lauryn’s favorite book is “Snug House, Bug House” by Susan Schade and Jon Buller. She also enjoys reading “Betty and Veronica” comic books because she said, “They say weird stuff.”

Lauryn wants to encourage other kids to read to as well.

“You learn new facts everyday,” she said. “You can learn new things your mom, dad or teacher haven’t told you.”

“My 100 Hands” is available for purchase at Park Roads Books.

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