Serving Monroe, Owen, and Greene Counties

Real Men Read a Success!

Spencer Owen Community Schools and United Way of Monroe County wrapped up the first year of Real Men Read in early February with great success! Real Men Read MENtors have been visiting the eight kindergarten classrooms once a month, boxes of books in tow, to share their own love of reading. MENtors hand out free books at the beginning of each visit to eager students who then gather in a circle to follow along with the story and excitedly interact with the reader by sharing questions, guessing what will happen next in the story, and doing activities to help bring the book to life. At the end of the story, before high-fives and good-byes, the kindergarteners are encouraged to take their new book home to read over and over again with their parents. Through this five-month pilot program, coordinated by United Way of Monroe County with funding from Duke Energy Foundation, over 1,000 books have been distributed to the SOCS kindergarteners.

Both teachers and MENtors shared that the program made a positive impression. MENtors say that the  excitement of the children is their favorite part of the program, and they have a better understanding how important their role is in supporting early childhood literacy in the community. Many of the MENtors have already offered to volunteer again next fall.

Classroom teachers have also praised the program. All confirmed that Real Men Read aligns with classroom literacy goals and encourages reading practice. One teacher remarked, "I love the program. I love having men read to the students. It is so important to get books into the homes. Thank you so much for implementing this program in our schools."

Real Men Read brings men from the community into the classroom to share their enjoyment of reading and demonstrate that "real men" read for fun. This message and modeling is especially important for boys. But all children benefit from following along with an interactive reader, and they enjoy spending time with a fun, caring, consistent classroom visitor. Real Men Read encourages Spencer-Owen students to embrace reading and build a foundation for future success in education and life.

Researchers have found a positive attitude toward reading in kindergarten usually continues and leads to higher levels of reading proficiency in later grades. By fourth grade, children are expected to use their reading skills to learn other subjects. This makes reading ability key to their chance for school success. Children who start behind tend to stay behind, and statistics show they are more likely to drop out of high school and be less successful in the workforce. Current data show that 62% of Indiana third graders are reading below level. Developing an appreciation for words and literacy early, in kindergarten or even sooner, can help ensure children have a better chance of school success. That's where Real Men Read finds its place.

Real Men Read is coordinated by United Way of Monroe County with funding and involvement from Duke Energy Foundation. Both are excited about working with SOCS teachers and administration to bring this program to next year's kindergarteners and are looking forward to meeting community partners who share the vision of every Owen County child reading and succeeding in school.


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>> More about Real Men Read

Do you feel passionate about strengthening education supports in our community?

Please consider donating to the United Way Education Priority Fund. This fund helps children achieve their potential through cradle-to-career initiatives that ensure kids enter kindergarten ready to learn and graduate high school ready to earn success in college or career.

Want to learn more about the other building blocks for a good life? Visit Earnings and Essentials to see how we are making an impact.


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