We Are APS: Parkside Second Grader Publishes a Book

Parkside Elementary School had an “Arrrgh Mighty Day” on Nov. 19, as they celebrated the book release of Penelope the Pirate Princess: The Search for the Magical Moon Pearl. Second grader Selah Thompson, 7, co-wrote the book with her father.

“I hope my book inspires others to find a love for reading and helps them learn something new,” said Selah.

It’s the first in a series that will follow heroine Penelope and her comrades on a quest to protect the Arrrgh Mighty Kingdom from the evil Madam Boujetto.

“Think Magic School Bus with a fantasy twist,” said Khalil Thompson, Selah’s dad and co-author who hopes his daughter’s book will not only offer young readers a comedic, educational adventure, but permission to pursue their dreams. “We want to show our kids and our communities what can happen when children are empowered to dream – and dream beyond their circumstances and statistics.”

As summarized by the Get Georgia Reading campaign, “the end of third grade marks the critical time when children shift from learning to read to reading to learn. Children who can’t read proficiently by the end of third grade are more likely to experience poor health, have discipline problems, become teen parents, and drop out of high school. As adults, they’re more likely to spend time in prison, struggle with unemployment, and face shorter life expectancies. ”

At just 5 years old, Selah joined her parents in a fight for literacy, founding Empowered Readers Literacy Project, a nonprofit organization that tackles illiteracy by helping families build strong reading rituals and getting kids excited about books. Selah officially launched Empowered Readers during MLK weekend in 2019 at the Children’s March for Literacy when she led hundreds of children (and enthusiastic adults) through the streets of Atlanta to advocate for kids to have greater opportunities to learn to read.

In honor of Selah’s book release, the city of Atlanta officially deemed Nov. 19 “Arrrgh Mighty Day.” Community volunteers read her book to K-2 classes at Parkside Elementary, and Councilwoman Natalyn Mosby Archibong presented Selah with a proclamation that recognizes the day as an opportunity to show support for the practices and programs that combat the epidemic of illiteracy.

Ten percent of all Penelope the Pirate Princess: The Search for the Magical Moon Pearl sales will benefit Empowered Readers. For more information on the series or to order the book, visit www.theauthenticprincess.com. For more information on Empowered Readers Literacy Project, visit www.empoweredreaders.org.

We Are APS highlights APS visionaries (parents, students, teachers, principals, support staff, community members, partners, etc.), who exemplify our vision of a high-performing school district where students love to learn, educators inspire, families engage, and the community trusts the system. To recommend an APS visionary for a We Are APS feature, contact your communications liaison or email apscommunicationsoffice@gmail.com.

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