Springfield school district revives “Real Men Read” program to foster reading among boys

Springfield School District 186 is on a mission to reignite a program aimed at fostering a passion for reading among young boys. The initiative, aptly named “Real Men Read,” has gathered male volunteers within the community to partake in this noble cause.

Initially, the program encountered a hiatus because of he disruptive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with a dedication to nurturing future leaders, the district is actively seeking volunteers to participate in this endeavor.

The primary objective of “Real Men Read” is to kindle a love for reading among boys. Male volunteers are slated to spend an hour per month engaging with third-grade classes, reading stories that captivate the imagination and inspire a lifelong relationship with books. A key highlight of this initiative is that each student will receive a copy of the book that was read, ensuring they can revisit and cherish the stories that sparked their interest.

I personally volunteer for this program and volunteered for the first time last Friday afternoon. I stepped into the school and immediately felt welcomed by two third-graders who were excited to show me to their room. Mrs. Britton’s classroom was filled with color and imagination. All the third-graders were seated on a rug toward the front of the room. You could feel the excitement in the room as soon as you stepped in the door. These kids were ready to read. Ready to have an adventure.

When I spoke with Mrs. Britton, she shared that this age is perfect for this program because “they have lots of questions and love learning new things.” Her students adore adults and learning from them. She is excited that this program is back in the schools and knows it will make a huge impact on these children’s lives.

The third-graders had numerous questions about the book, about me and about my favorite things. Their inquisitive minds didn’t stop for one moment. They were always thinking, learning and questioning. It was powerful to watch their young minds discover the themes of the book and apply it to their own lives.

The “Real Men Read” program aims to empower young minds and bridge the gap in reading habits among boys. With the collective efforts of volunteers across the community, District 186 hopes to create a generation of readers ready to ignite the future.

For more information or to get involved, contact the District 186’s main office.

Scott Jones is the director of community initiatives at United Way of Central Illinois. Find United Way on social media to stay connected to all the ways that they are helping our community thrive.

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