Sidney Keys, an 11-year old African-American, noticed that his St. Louis school library had very few books about kids like himself. So he started Books n Bros, a book club for 8- to 12-year-olds who get together and read African-American literature. Sidney also wanted to improve literacy among his peers, as he saw many of them stop reading by age 8 or 10.
There’s a St. Louis-area bookstore that focuses on African-American culture, and they’ve been a big help with suggested readings. After seven months Sidney’s club has over 30 members who get together once a month to read out loud and discuss what they are reading.
Sidney’s mom has seen a real difference in her son. “He’s more confident,” she said. “He speaks up for himself more. He’s a different kind of kid than he was before the book club.” Sidney’s school has decided to diversify the literature on its bookshelves. And Sidney explained, “What makes me really happy is seeing all the happy faces of all my members – so happy about reading.”
How about encouraging other young school children to start book clubs based on shared interests, whether those are cultural or sports related or whatever! Parents can provide snacks for meetings, school librarians can help pick out books, and perhaps a local business would be willing to donate a set of paperbacks for the club members.
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