After seeing this article on Read Kiddo Read, I was inspired. The article describes the Brother Reader project. Brother Reader is a community service project started by Conor Davidson and Will McCord to "instill the love of reading in young boys". It is genius in its simplicity. The high school boys visit local elementary schools and read "boy" books to the boys in the class. Our boys are in dire need of more male reader role models and this is an easy, free, and effective way to meet that need.
I shared the article with our Gifted and Talented teacher and we talked about the logistics for starting something similar with our 8th graders. Luckily we have an elementary school right across the street. I contacted the librarian and principal and they gave us a time slot that worked well with our lunch schedule. I introduced the project to the 6 boys in the class and they were very excited about it.
I looked up lists of boy-friendly books, asked for suggestions from my trusted library buds, and looked at the Brother Reader blog posts for ideas. I checked out a big stack for the boys to look through for their first visit. I used my 3 year old as a book tester, which he thoroughly enjoyed.
My six boys includes one actor (he's an extra in The Hunger Games, super cool!) and at least one amazingly talented musical performer, but I wanted to prepare them for the performance aspect of story time. I found this list of excellent tips and ideas for wrangling youngsters on the Elementary Library Routines wiki. We looked through the books together, read the advice, and practiced for the first visit.
Our visit was so much fun. You can see what we read on this Goodreads list I created to help me keep up with our books. My students couldn't stop talking about how much fun they had and how cute the kids were. It was very sweet to watch them in action. The students would inch closer and closer as they turned the pages and they were truly happy to have us there. We are currently planning visits with two other feeder elementary schools nearby and will visit our closest school once a month. I'll continue to post about our project.
If you would like to start your own Brother Reader, check out Conor's suggestions and shoot him a quick email. If you have any boy-approved picture book recommendations we would love to hear them.