Program encourages reading for elementary school boys

COLUMBIA, Md. - It's 8 o'clock on a Wednesday morning at Stevens Forest Elementary School in Columbia.  School does not start for another 45 minutes, but the library is packed with fourth and fifth grade boys.

It's all part of a program called Boys, Books and Basketball.  It's a book club for selected boys who need a boost in reading and confidence.  Today they are discussing a book they have read.

"I really like reading books because the more you read the better you can spell and the better you can spell the more you get pushed in life," said Redji Jeaneaptiste, fifth grade student at Stevens Forest Elementary School.

Students alternate book club discussion one week and basketball the next week.  It's time to hit the court after book discussion.

School data showed males were falling behind female students in reading.  This program has turned things around for students.

"For me, it's an ultimate goal to make them lifelong readers.  I want them to learn to love reading and as they leave us to go to high school, I want them to continue to pick up books and enjoy reading, which will help them throughout life," said Toni Sommerville, Reading Specialist.

Boys, Books and Basketball has helped students form a unique bond.  They help one another and formed new friendships while developing a love of reading.

Educators say they have seen an improvement in test scores and more confidence in the classroom since the program started three years ago.

"Would the kids have read three novels at this point in the year outside of what they do traditionally in the classroom? Probably not, so for our kids they are getting excited about reading.  We are seeing them read at home.  They are reading at school, reading on their downtime. Getting kids excited about reading is our goal," said Ron Morris, Principal.

This program has put students on the path to success.


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