The Teacher's Desk

Jacquie's Gold Stars

Clip art image of a gold star

Each month I honor an individual, team, program, school, or piece of legislation that is helping to promote a quality education for kids. I welcome your nomination for this honor, and I will consider thoughtfully any name(s) you recommend. You can use the "Contact " link to make a nomination. Please explain why you think your nominee should be honored, and let me know how I can contact you for verification. And if you're one of a group that has gone the extra mile, tell me about it. It doesn't hurt to blow your own horn once in awhile. And besides, nobody will ever accuse you of bragging because I don't ever reveal the nominator's name.


April's Gold Star goes to...

James Patterson
Author and Benefactor

Photo of James Patterson

I, along with millions of others, count James Patterson as one of my all-time my favorite authors. In 2011 it was estimated that one-in-four of all hardcover suspense/thriller novels sold was written by Patterson. He is the first author to achieve ten million e-book sales, and he holds the Guinness record for the most #1 NYT bestsellers.

Patterson's Alex Cross series was my initial hook, and that ultimately led to the Women's Murder Club and Michael Bennett series. A few years ago he began writing for middle grade students and young adults, and again he rose to the top of the heap. Patterson has been called the busiest man in publishing, and that's not just because he writes best sellers. For the past decade, James Patterson has been devoting much of his time to championing books and reading.

Patterson passes on his passion of books and reading and supports those who do the same in a number of ways. His website,, is designed to help parents, teachers, and librarians ignite the next generation's excitement about reading by recommending books carefully chosen for their ability — books kids can really sink their teeth into. He funds College Book Bucks scholarships, and regularly donates hundreds of thousands of books to schools in the states and troops overseas.

James Patterson funded a major ad campaign re-printing an opinion piece on CNN about how it is our responsibility to get our kids reading. The ads, which ran in the New York Times, The New Yorker, and USA Today, are a call to action to parents to make their kids reading a top priority. And, if you aren't already in love with the guy, hear this. Patterson says (in person and in print) that we cannot rely on schools, teachers or the government to get our kids reading. Only parents can make this crucial change in the reading habits of our kids. (One Gold Star isn't enough for this guy, right?)

Patterson's most recent give-away goes in a slightly different direction, but has the same focus. He has started a program to give away $1 million of his personal fortune to dozens of independent bookstores, allowing them to invest in improvements, dole out bonuses to employees and expand literacy outreach programs. More than 50 stores across the country have already received cash grants.

"I just want to get people more aware and involved in what's going on here, which is that, with the advent of e-books, we either have a great opportunity or a great problem," Patterson said. "Our bookstores in America are at risk. Publishing and publishers as we've known them are at stake. To some extent the future of American literature is at stake."

"I'm rich; I don't need to sell more books," Patterson said. "But I do think it's essential for kids to read more broadly. And he is willing to do all that he can to make that happen.

James Patterson is my kind of guy. He puts his money where his passion is. Thank you, Mr. Patterson. You are making the world a better place.

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