Tags: Community & Outreach
Abe Benkhaled and bestselling author R.L. Stine. Stine’s writing repertoire includes the Goosebumps, Rotten School and Mostly Ghostly book series. (click for larger version)
May 20, 2013FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – Starting more than two years ago and working for at least 30 minutes a day, about every day, 11-year-old Abe Benkhaled sat and researched America's history and values. As he unearthed narratives about his country and its prominent leaders, he began to tell these stories through his own lens.
The son of Asian and African immigrants, Benkhaled's mission was to get across how appreciative we should be of our home.
"I wanted to show people that they should feel proud of this country and that they are blessed to live here," Benkhaled said. "Our country has done so many great things for us."
Last February, he and his dad, B.K. Bhutta – who helped his son in the writing, researching and editing processes – compiled their thoughts into their first book, "The Greatest Country." The 40-page, self-published book hit Amazon.com's proverbial shelves on Presidents' Day, Feb. 18.
Writing the book, initially, was neither easy nor attractive to the 11-year-old.
"My dad gave me the idea for the book," Benkhaled said. "At first, it kind of felt like homework. But as we went further, it became fun."
And the fun hasn't stopped. Since publication, he and his father have taken the book on air at Fox News, CNN's Headline News and Fox Business Channel. At each stop, Benkhaled said he wants to express why he thinks America is so great.
"We help other countries," he said. "We help them cure diseases and help them with education and so much more. Our soldiers sacrifice their lives for us and for the freedom of other nations. Our military also has pretty much the coolest gadgets and gizmos."
The book has gotten an overwhelmingly positive response from the Forsyth and North Fulton communities as well as the online Amazon community.
The two have given presentations at Benkhaled's school, Piney Grove Middle School, and have also been invited to speak at the Rotary Club of North Fulton, Forsyth County Board of Commissioners and the Optimists Club of Kennesaw.
They were invited to Columbus for the Children's Book Festival, attended by bestsellers like R.L. Stine and Jane O'Connor.
The book holds a five-star ranking on Amazon. It is available as an e-book and in paperback.
One commenter by the name Faisal Akhtar said, "It's a short book, but very educational, I have learnt many historical things, which I wouldn't have otherwise known."
The book is geared for children ages 8 to 12, but Benkhaled and his father said it can be quite useful to people of all ages.