Van Duyn Boys Learn to Love Reading with Brilliant Young Minds
Published on 12/23/19
District News Van Duyn Elementary School
“What just happened here?” 100 Black Men Founder Jerome Walker asked a group of fourth grade boys reading around a table together in a Van Duyn classroom.
Hands shoot up around the table.
The boys are reading “Harbor Me” by Jacqueline Woodson, with each boy taking turns reading sections and ‘Brother Jerome,’ as they call him, interjecting with questions.
For the second year, fourth and fifth grade boys at Van Duyn engage weekly in the group, coined Brilliant Young Minds Book Club. Books are provided through funding from 100 Black Men.
“It’s different to read in a group instead of by ourselves,” fourth grade student Davier Singletary said. “It helps us learn words we don’t know, and it makes me excited to read!”
Once a month, the boys are treated to a pizza party; and at the end of the year, they enjoy a celebration for completing the program. Along the way, they read two books – “chapter books – with no pictures,” one student explains – and discuss the themes as they go.
Mr. Walker said the ultimate goal of the book club is to help instill a love of reading, while also creating a community where the boys can discuss things that may be on their minds.
“Reading does have an effect on dropout rates, incarceration rates, and crime,” Mr. Walker said. “In grades 3-5, reading on level is so important. I aim to give the students a sense of loving literature and also tying in cultural education. I want to make a difference.”
Homework assignments may include tasks like going to a local library to sign up for a library card.
“I see a change in their discipline from the start of the year to the end,” Mr. Walker added. “They’re more respectful of each other as they read, and they also focus more on reading comprehension.”
This is the program’s second year at Van Duyn, and Mr. Walker hopes to expand the program to other schools next year.