Karter Johnson creates Popcorn & Books transforming literature.

By: Jessica Jones

Imagine a world where reading isn’t just a pastime but a superpower, where words on a page come to life like scenes from your favorite movie. Meet Karter Johnson, a remarkable 12-year-old whose journey with books began before he could even tie his shoes. But Karter’s love for reading wasn’t just about escaping into fantastical worlds; it became a mission to ignite a passion for literacy in kids across the country.

It all started with a simple letter, a warning from Karter’s homeschool partnership teacher about the importance of reading proficiency by the end of third grade. While his mom brushed it off, Karter’s curiosity sparked a search for solutions to the literacy crisis facing children. And thus, the “Kernel that POPPED” into his mind, birthing an innovative venture that merges the joy of reading with the delight of popcorn.

Enter Popcorn and Books, Karter’s brainchild that’s transforming how kids engage with literature. Through subscription boxes filled with captivating reads and tasty treats, Karter invites children on a journey where every page turn is accompanied by the satisfying crunch of popcorn. But when a global pandemic threatened to dim his ambitions, Karter refused to surrender. Instead, he took his reading tour online, captivating audiences with his infectious enthusiasm and insightful book reviews.

As Karter’s online presence blossomed, so did his influence in the literary world. Self-published authors and children’s book writers clamored to have their works featured in his readings and reviews. And while most kids dream of becoming something when they grow up, Karter had a different perspective. “Why wait?” he thought. At just nine years old, he became a published author, contributing his story to a book celebrating kid entrepreneurs like himself.

Join us as we delve into the extraordinary journey of Karter Johnson, a young boy with a vision as big as his heart, proving that age is no barrier to making a profound impact on the world.

As a kid entrepreneur, what advice would you give to other children who are passionate about making a positive impact in their communities through entrepreneurship?

As an entrepreneur, I want to say: if you love something, do that thing you love and share that love with others. Don’t let any obstacles stop you. Give it your best and give it your all.

How do you choose the books for your program, and what criteria do you consider to ensure they’re engaging and beneficial for young readers?

I read a lot of books and when I read a book that I like I want others to enjoy the book as well so those are the books that I send to the kids in my program. This is why I started the program so that I could share my love of reading with others. I just hope that they enjoy them as much as I did. I try to pick books that have a good message that kids can learn from, books that kids can find funny, books that can spark conversation within their family, and books that will be easier for kids to read on their own and understand.

Can you share a memorable success story from your program where you saw a significant improvement in a child’s reading skills?

I get feedback like this from parents “I just wanted to say thank you for sending us the books. My older one had always liked reading but my little one didn’t. And now he gets super excited every time he receives his book and he says he can’t go to bed without reading first. Thank you very much. – a mom”. When I hear parents say things like this it makes me feel good and happy that my program is working and I’m accomplishing my goal of getting kids excited about reading.

What challenges have you faced as a young entrepreneur running your own program, and how did you overcome them? What’s next for “Kernel that Popped”?

One of the challenges I face is slow business. It’s when I put my time and hard work to something but it doesn’t perform the way I expect it to. So I tell myself I need to stay positive and look for ways to do things differently so I can have a different outcome and be motivated to do my business work. I am currently writing a new book. I am on my third rough draft. Hopefully I’ll finish it soon so I can publish it.