Ben Carson Yale University Book Club Seeks Student Members

Yale Corporation trustee Dr. Ben Carson, whose love of books and reading spurred him to academic and career success, has inspired Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs to create the Ben Carson Yale University Book Club at the New Haven Free Public Library so that Carson may share his positive experiences with the city’s school children.

Carson, who graduated from Yale College in 1973, said that when he discovered books as a child growing up in the inner cities of Detroit and Boston, he found a world of knowledge and imagination that took him to all sorts of places. He went from having failing grades to being an honor student, crediting his love of reading for helping transform him from a child with a violent temper to a mature, compassionate young man. He refused to allow negative peer pressure to dictate his life or actions.

As director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Carson is living proof that perseverance, prayer and self-respect, combined with a devotion to acquiring knowledge, can overcome any obstacles in one’s way. He felt the need to convey his philosophy for success to young people. In response to this need, the Office of New Haven and State Affairs founded the book club to enhance existing reading curricula and practices in elementary schools and to promote reading as a family pastime as well as an individual one.

The book club is open to all New Haven Public School students in grades 2-6. Students earn points by several methods including reading any book in the public library, reading to others, achieving good grades and parental involvement. Parents can sign up their children as individual club members. Schools, churches and community organizations currently running or interested in starting youth programs and that wish to incorporate Dr. Carson’s THINK BIG philosophy into their work may register as a group.

Carson explains THINK BIG: “T is for recognizing talent/time as gifts from God; H is for hope and honesty; I is for insight from people and good books; N is for being nice to all people; K is for recognizing knowledge as the key to living; B is for reading books; I is for developing in-depth learning skills; and G is for God, never getting too big for Him.”

Individual and group registration forms may be picked up at all branches of the New Haven Free Public Library or at the New Haven Reads Community Book Bank at252 Park Street. Completed forms can be returned to any New Haven Public Library branch during the enrollment period from November through January 1, 2003.

The Office of New Haven and State Affairs will assist the New Haven Free Public Library in providing sets of the required elements of a Ben Carson Reading Room, which includes a special banner, THINK BIG block letters for display, pledge forms for students to sign up, prize point information, prizes for the program and a special T-shirt for each club member.

Additionally, club members will receive a special sticker for their New Haven Free Public Library Card, a copy of Dr. Carson’s book “Gifted Hands,” and a THINK BIG bookmark. Club members will also be able to earn points that can be exchanged for incentive prizes each month and, if they qualify, be eligible to attend a special Ben Carson event to be held soon on the Yale University Campus. For more information, contact Claudia Merson, public schools partnership coordinator, at 432-4098.

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