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Real Men Read Storytime & Mentoring Program for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Memphis Public Library & Information Center

Innovation Summary

By developing Real Men Read Story time & Mentoring Program into an outreach (mobile) program we are able to promote the joy of reading a larger numbers of the children and the mentoring is a plus to program. The guest readers read Multicultural books to the children like themselves in the books in order to grow up “well” both mentally and physically. A strong image of themselves, their families and peers can be “life-affirming” and reinforce to the children that they are truly valuable members in our society. In addition, we choose books to enhance character development to the children as the guest readers role models positive behavior to the toddlers and preschoolers.

Problem Statement

Real Men Read is a library outreach (mobile) program designed to promote literacy and foster positive self-esteem in African-American children in urban areas especially where the illiteracy and dropout rate in the zip code 38126 is the highest in Memphis. One of the major problems for urban child care centers in our service area is transportation to Crenshaw Library for story time hour.


The guest readers are African-American males from different professions to read to the children thereby serving a dual purpose to promote the love of reading and provide positive African-American male role modeling which is in the majority of the children in our service area there's a large void. The guest readers/volunteers receive a brief training and trainer's manual of handouts on age-appropriate books, award books, how to use puppets, the art of storytelling-reading with fluency and expression. The guest readers also receive a puppet kit and a roll of stickers used in the story time to check for children attentiveness and comprehension regarding story that was read to them. The children librarian and the guest readers visit inner city child care centers to read and promoting the joy of reading to children mostly toddlers to preschoolers.


The impact of Real Men Read is immediate from the attention the children give the guest reader and afterward the interaction between the children and the guest reader is wonderful to witness. The guest readers giving of other themselves to the children being warm and welcoming through smiling and hugging. The children are listening, asking questions as well as answering questions from the guest reader. The long term impact is the beginning read readiness in children’s educational development, language development-expanding their vocabulary, how to read with expression, develop a passion for reading and becoming a life-long learners. Currently, Crenshaw Liibrary's Real Men Read have 26 volunteers. The guest readers from September 2011 to March 2012 have read to 1053 toddlers and preschoolers in our service area.