Inspiring a love of reading
By Anthony KaDarrell Thigpen Post-Tribune correspondent March 13, 2013 4:42PM
Students were attentive and captivated as 77-year-old Lynnell Sartin read a story during the Real Men Read program at Brunswick Elementary School in Gary, Ind. | Anthony KaDarrell Thigpen~For Sun-Times Media
Women teachers at Brunswick Elementary School stepped aside recently when volunteer readers occupied 20 classrooms — the guest list included men only. Real Men Read is an annual event meant to inspire students to become more frequent and better readers.
“Studies have shown that students who aren’t reading by the third grade usually dropout prior to graduating,” said Gloria Terry, Brunswick principal.
This is why the school administration and staff promotes reading by any means available.
“These kids need to see examples,” said Kevin Hester, TCF Bank senior relationship manager, who read “The Big Lie” by Bill Cosby. “With the ability to read and comprehend they can do anything.”
Parent assistant Annette McGovern organized the event, reaching out to men for support.
“We’re under an obligation to do this,” said attorney Trent McCain, volunteer. “These kids are impressionable, and we don’t want their only image to be of men like Lil Wayne.”
Lil Wayne, born Dwayne Carter Jr., is a hip-hop recording artist from New Orleans with a long rap sheet of arrests and incarcerations.
According to McCain, “Because of the media, that’s all some of these kids see.”
He explained, “If we don’t do things like this, we’re going to lose the next generation.”
Terry says students on the elementary level are rarely exposed to male teachers and many urban students don’t have fathers in the home.
“We want them to see men reading,” she said. “They need to know that it’s cool to read.”
Doctors, lawyers, pastors, mechanics and men from all sorts of backgrounds volunteer for the cause.
“We’re moving the needle forward,” said Antuwan Clemmons, Gary School Board member.
“My favorite book is ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X,’ ” said Sharrod Jones, 13. “I like reading about how he fought for our rights.”
One student belted out, “But reading is boring.”
Clemmons responded with a dramatic recital of “Under the Quilt of Night” by Deborah Hopkinson.
The captivating monologue seized students’ attention, raising eyelids and sparking bright smiles.
Data coach Dorothy Harding said, “I’m excited, because I’m seeing the changes.”