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One-hundred men reading program spreads to south

Volunteer Joe Conaway introduces the class to a popular book, "Bear Feels Sick." PHOTOS BY LEXI COON
June 20, 2013

Fourteen men gathered in the teacher’s lounge of HOB Elementary School in Milton as Greg Fuller, the organizer of the 100 Men Reading Program for Sussex County, assigned a grade, a classroom, and a bag full of books to each. Unlike many educational initiative programs today, the literacy development program was not only designed for children, but by an adolescent just like themselves.

At 12 years old and a Reading Assist Institute alumnus, Imani Henry co-authored Macy’s Reading is Fundamental (RIF) grant with the dream to have 100 men go to schools up and down the state of Delaware and read to children in grades kindergarten through third grade. The program has grown in northern Delaware, and on June 5, Imani’s idea spread to Sussex County with the inaugural reading program at HOB Elementary.

The program lasted about an hour, with men of all ages and backgrounds volunteering to read to the kindergarten, first grade and second grade classrooms. Their books included the well-known favorites such as Dr. Seuss and other more educational options that taught about volcanoes and animals.

Many of the men coaxed the students to interact during the readings by raising their hands to make observations or to ask questions, which encouraged the kids to become more involved in their own learning process.

As their time came to an end, the men allowed the children to select their own books to take home, hoping they would be more likely to read if the books they selected were based on their own interests.

While the goal for the program is to have 100 men involved across the state at all times, Greg has his own goals specifically for Sussex County. In the near future, he wishes to reach 100 members in Sussex County alone, saying “It’s a big goal, but I believe I can get to it.” With the success of Milton’s HOB Elementary School as a stepping stone for the program in lower Delaware, many more reading days should be in the future.