Guys Read Brings the Joy of Reading to Barrow 4th Graders

Eben Hopson and volunteer reader D.A.R.E. Officer Miles Godsey at the Guys Read party“Fun books!” “Cool readers!” and “I loved it!” were just a few of the exclamations from participating fourth grade boys about theGuys Read program held from October to December at Ipalook Elementary School in Barrow.

Guys Read, a program piloted in Fairbanks schools, incorporates fun, guy-friendly books and adult male volunteer readers to show the kids that reading is a fun, masculine thing to do. The program in Barrow was organized by Tuzzy Consortium Library, in cooperation with the Fairbanks North Star Borough Public Library, and the North Slope Borough School District.

Ipalook’s fourth grade boys attended a Guys Read session once a week. After getting their lunch trays, the boys went to the program room where they were met by that week’s volunteer readers. Once the boys got settled in, the readers shared a different story each week using a PowerPoint presentation containing the book’s images. With their hands occupied with lunch and their eyes and minds focused on a new story, the boys were introduced to pleasure reading: interesting books presented in a casual environment by cool
guys from the community.

Academic studies have shown that boys begin to lose interest in reading as a recreational activity around fourth grade. By bringing positive male role-models into the school to read fun titles like The Adventures of Captain Underpants and The Legend of Zelda, Guys Read encourages the boys to read just for fun. As a result, teachers are already reporting positive changes in the attitude the boys have toward reading and the number of books checked out at the school library has dramatically increased. In addition, the boys are approaching books with a new confidence and enthusiasm. When surveyed after the events, many of the boys said that the only thing that could have made the sessions more fun is if they had lasted longer.

To celebrate the conclusion of the Guys Read program, all Ipalook fourth grade boys were invited to Tuzzy Consortium Library on Saturday, December 5th for a party featuring guy grub and guy games. Boys of all ages who were in the library were invited to join in the fun, making paper airplanes and reading with Guys Read volunteers Steve Culbertson and D.A.R.E. Officer Miles Godsey. All 4th grade participants in Guys Read received a free book from the program to take home.

Tuzzy Library would like to extend special thanks to all of the volunteer readers for their time and talents! Plans are underway for another Guys Read program next year and something special for the girls as well!

To get involved in the many youth programs the library offers to students, or for more information contact
Sara Saxton, Youth Librarian at (907) 852-4050

Written by: Sara Saxton