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Update on Guys Read — Guest Blog

Remember the Guys Read Club Deb Hanson Ran in Florida Last Year?

I checked in with Deb to see how it is going this year. As you’ll see, they are having trouble getting going but are still reaping the rewards of last year. Her post made me think about some issues — over at Read Roger his September 7 post engages with the question of whether more kids would read if there were more books by minority authors. To me Deb’s post suggests that, yes, books that seem close to the life readers can hook readers (though so can fantasy, books that seem as far as possible from the reader’s life), but what got the boy she discusses into reading was a subject he cared about (sports) which then led him to trust the program enough to try out a novel about characters from backgrounds similar to his. Interest came first, then identification. Your thoughts? 

Here’s Deb: Some of you are familiar with the Guys Read program we started at Veterans Park Academy last year. Marc has posted about it here on this blog several times. The Guys Read Club has not yet started up this year – and we’re not sure if we’ll be able to make a go of it yet due to some scheduling issues – but I did want to share this story with all of you. One of the boys from last year’s Guys Read Club (he happens to have been retained twice in 6th grade,  and is now a 14-year-old 7th grader) came to me last week clutching a paperback copy of the book Tears of a Tiger by Sharon Draper. This was the book he had started reading with his Guys Read group at the end of last year (he had kept it all summer long – working his way through it slowly). He leaned over to me and said, “Mrs. Hanson, do you have Darkness Before Dawn?” (the next book in Draper’s Hazelwood High trilogy) I gave it to him and two days later he found me on campus just to tell me “It’s a good book so far!” This young man reads at about a 3rd grade reading level, yet he’s taking on these books about high school basketball stars and their urban stories – all on his own. To me, that is a success story and evidence that Guys Read lives on. I know we made a difference in this young man’s life.


  1. Vicky Alvear Shecter says:

    Wow, that’s a powerful story. Talk about a turning point in that young man’s life. Yes, interest came first, then identification–though I wonder if the better word, in this case, was trust. Sounds like the young man has begun to trust that books can and will ‘speak’ to him.

  2. Yes, trust is exactly the right word.

  3. DEBRA HANSON says:

    Hi Marc… some good news. I’ve been doing some data aalysis on my Guys Read boys in preparation for doing a pesentation about the Club a our state media conference. While we never set out to use reading scores as a measure of success, the data shows that in the year prior to Guys Read Club, 29% of this group of 24 boys showed learning gains in reading on Florida’s standardized reading test (FCAT). Last year, after Guys Read Club,87% had learning gains in reading! I showed the data to my principal today, and we are meeting tomorrow to find a way to schedule Guys Read Club for this year! While I don’t believe standardized tests should be the be-all, end-all measure for any educational endeavor, the data sure is useful for making a point. The boys are going to be thrilled!