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In the 1937 book Think and Grow Rich, author Napoleon Hill writes extensively on the topic of auto-suggestion: an act that seeks to influence the subconscious mind by repeating goals aloud and focusing on positive emotional feelings. Done properly, this repetitive process gives the mind more control over its environment and, Kyle Colley says, it culminates in two vital life skills: “building successful habits and leadership.”
Colley, a Denver native, finished Hill’s book in the summer of 2014, before his freshman year at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He says it “opened my mind to the opportunities I had,” and drove him to read other authors—James Baldwin and Warren Berger among them—before graduating Phi Beta Kappa, an accomplishment he credits partially to Hill’s words.
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Think and Grow Rich also gave him the “entrepreneurial endeavor” to start Read More, a Denver-based company focused on developing personal growth through books. The company started small, with author interviews and a vendor booth at the Southlands Farmers Market, where they sold books and t-shirts and hats emblazoned with their emblem. It was at this market that, in the summer of 2016, parents first started asking about summer programming. In response, Read More developed the once-a-week Stay F.R.E.S.H. (Flowing Rich in Education, Success, and Happiness) summer program, which begins June 8 at the Blair-Caldwell Library.
The goal, over the course of eight weeks, is to keep 13- to 19-year-olds mentally engaged and growing in the summer months, when students, especially those in low-income areas, often fall into what’s dubbed the “Summer Slide.” A study commissioned by the Colorado State Library found that a lack of access to summer books can lead to a lower likelihood of earning a high school or college diploma, and students in low-income households can fall two months behind in reading comprehension.
“That’s a time where confidence can be shaky and lackluster,” Colley says. “At that age, I could have used a program like this.”
Students can take as few as one class and as many as all eight, and Colley estimates about a dozen students will start week one with Think and Grow Rich, before moving on to books that will offer new perspectives (Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse), life skills (How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie) and self confidence (Charisma on Command by Charlie Houpert). Those in the eight-week course will practice public speaking and present a five-minute speech at the program’s conclusion.
Colley hopes that students leave with a newfound sense of confidence. He remembers a time when he struggled with words and putting sentences together, when other kids made fun of his in-class reading. “It’s so important to instill [confidence] in kids, because I know when I was young it wasn’t always there,” he says. But as his stacks of books piled up, his self-doubt subsided. Now he’s reading Berger’s A More Beautiful Question, a book about ideas and questioning ways to improve the world. By asking “why,” Berger writes, we can better identify problems—say, a lack of summer reading—and kickstart a way to solve them.
Learn more: Interested students can sign up for one week ($30), four weeks ($115), or all eight weeks ($230). Registration is open now.