A local elementary school gets outside help to encourage reading and hopes a special group of narrators will make a difference.
“The Kids themselves are just so special,” said Peoria resident Dwight Winnett.
Winnett’s been looking foward to this day – maybe more than Mrs. Rose’s third grade class.
“When we go through life, we get all of these blessings, and it’s important that we give back,” he said.
Once per month, he stops by Franklin-Edison Primary School excited to read aloud to children. But more than sharing the latest tale, he hopes to change the way kids, especially boys, think about reading.
“I’m not sure if they sit around at home with a lot of men reading. So I wanted them to see men actually read,” said Lafelda Jones, the school’s library manager.
There are few male teachers at Franklin-Edison and of those, Jones says most teach non-reading critical subjects like technology and physical education. So she started asking men in the community to stop by her classrooms. Since last school year, men from the community arrive at Franklin-Edison for 30 minutes once per month to read to students and prove men read, too. The program, Real Men Read, has already garnered participation for dozens of men in the city.
“They see people who look like them and they can identify with that person. And they see that person doing something positive, something they don’t always see, ” said Jones.
Studies show boys are less likely to read if they do not see men read, And with so few male teachers, men like Winnett help write a different story.
“There’s something about looking up to a male role model that is important, especially to so many of the young boys growing up,” he said.
Jones says student interest in reading is up since the program started, and she hopes to attract a reader per month for all 27 classrooms.
If you would like to volunteer for Real Men Read, contact Lafelda Jones at email@example.com or call (309) 682-2693.