‘Please sir, can I read some more’

As an eight-year-old in foster care, Kalimah Priforce read all the books in his  group home, some of them twice. Told it was “impossible” to get more books, he went on a hunger strike, he writes in “Please sir, can I read some more” on The Good Men Project.  Inspired by Peter Pan, Encyclopedia Brown, Huckleberry Finn, The Little Prince and Pippi Longstocking, he got more books and the right to visit a local library.

Reading exposed him to a wider world.

Thanks to Twain, Barrie, Dickens, Caroll, and so many more,  books gave my earliest dreams the push they needed to make the incredible journey from the confines of a Brooklyn group home to the learning labs of Silicon Valley — where I currently run an edtech startup. My life’s work is about giving every learning miracle its push.

A “hackademic,” Priforce started Qykno to develop career-exploration software.

About Joanne


  1. Deirdre Mundy says:

    This article has been on my mind all day. On the one hand, it’s a feel good story that reinforces all my predjudices : Books are good! Libraries and Museums help lift kids out of poverty! A rich curriculum for all! What’s not to like?

    But after a day of mulling it over, I think the lessons in the essay aren’t as clear cut. The author CHOSE to embrace books and seek out more. The other kids in the home couldn’t care less– they were satisfied with MTV. From the story, it sounds like, at eight, this kid already had “middle class values.” He respected authority, he worked hard, he tried to help the less fortunate.

    Is it really the books, library and museum that saved him from the fate that meets most group-home foster kids? Or was it that he was different from most kids, and so went looking for books, libraries and museums?

    At the end of the article, he recommends a rich curriculum to save kids from poverty— but even if you PRESENT it, how to you get kids to embrace it over the Xbox? Like a friend in college used to say “You can lead a whore to culture, but you can’t make her think…..”