Exciting Girls and Boys About Books and Reading

“Men read heavily-illustrated, boy-friendly books to 4th grade boys at lunchtime, project the pages onto the wall, and use laser pointers to show where they are reading.

Only a portion of each book can be read during the 30-minute school lunch period, so several copies of each featured book are donated to the school library.

Guys Gals Read presentations usually attract nearly 100% of the 4th grade boys, and the featured books are among the most popular at the school library. School staff are always present and enforce discipline when necessary.”

Program Costs
Providing Guys Gals Read programs to all 18 local public elementary schools costs between $250 and $500 per school, depending upon school enrollment and administrative costs. The major expense is for the copies of the featured Guys Read books donated to the school libraries, followed by the program administration costs. Every dollar donated to Guys Read goes to support the program.

Guys Read has been offered to local schools for the past eight years. Most often the carry-over funding from one school year to the next amounts to less than $1,000.

Program Effectiveness
Parents, teachers, librarians, and principals like Guys Read, because nearly 100% of all 4th grade boys attend the sessions voluntarily and are inspired to read for the fun of it.

Guys Read won the National Association of Counties Academic Achievement Award in 2010, and the Public Library Association’s Innovations in Literacy Award in 2013.

Programs modeled on Guys Read have spread across rural Alaska, from Barrow and Nome to Wasilla and Seward.

The Problem
Boys often lose interest in reading for pleasure in third and fourth grade and don’t consider reading to be fun or a masculine pastime.

The Goal
Show boys that reading can be fun and help them to consider themselves readers.

The Method
Teams of men volunteers read portions of “boy-friendly” books to 4th grade boys during lunch. Pages are projected onto a screen so the boys can follow along. Copies of the books are given to each school library and the public library hosts a party at the program’s conclusion.

The Result
The boys get excited about the books and begin to think of themselves as readers. They experience readings by a variety of men who all enjoy reading. Reading scores improve as reading for pleasure becomes a regular activity. And boys who never visited the public library are attracted to the program’s closing party held there.”

Police Chief Dan Hoffman takes time out to share the fun of reading with 4th grade boys in Fairbanks.

Bob Howard adds a dramatic edge touch as he reads from projected text using a laser pointer so the boys can follow along.

The Boys

  • “Guys read was the best fun I’ve ever had. I hope you keep doing it.” 4th Grade Boy, Denali Elementary
  • “I think I would want to do it in fifth grade.” 4th Grade Boy, Ticasuk Brown Elementary
  • “GUYS READ Rocks!!!” 4th Grade Boy, University Park Elementary

School Personnel

  • “Excellent!! The books were off the shelf for checkout. They are the ‘Best’ according to the 4th grade boys—who now have discovered that reading is fun.” Librarian
  • “My boys came back very excited and enthusiastic each session. They wanted to share what was read and who was reading with me. They were always excited to go.” 4th grade Teacher
  • “The boys loved it and many of them started to read more because of the book choices.” 4th grade teacher

The Volunteers

  • “One boy wanted to skip recess so that we could keep reading.” Volunteer Reader
  • “When I read the kids looked at the screen, when my son (Casey) read, the kids looked at him.” Father –Son Volunteer team
  • “All were enthusiastic and appreciative.” Volunteer Reader
  • “Who’s having more fun – the kids or you old guys ?” Parent of 4th grade boy.

The Parents

“I just wanted to tell you how happy I am to see you participate in this program. My 10 year old, ____, is a 4th grader. He has struggled with reading since he started school, and I have worked with him on it from almost every possible angle. They are doing Guys Read this year, and he gets so excited, and really focuses on the story in a way I haven’t been able to get out of him myself. I think it is an important factor that boys see men who care and value reading. I know ____ responds better when he works with my husband or father, but adding the component of new role models is even more stimulating. I just wanted to say thanks and keep up the good work.” (name withheld)

Letter to the Editor (Fairbanks Daily News Miner)

To the editor:

My stepson is in the fourth grade, and despite our efforts to get him interested in reading, he has been very disinterested until recently.
I want to sincerely thank Greg Hill of the Noel Wien Library, Mike Kolasa of the Literacy Council of Alaska and all of the volunteer readers who helped ignite a fire under my son as he is now excited about reading and learning things he has read.

I also want to thank the principals in each school who allowed this activity to take place. It is my understanding this great activity did not cost our schools any money and the kids were read to during their lunch hour. I am sure other boys benefited as much as my stepson.

Finally, I understand John Hill of Auto Service Co. gave $10,000 as a donation to fund half of the cost of supplies and other expenses. Thank you Mr. Hill for your help in enabling Guys Read to take place. It meant a lot to our schools and our boys in helping interest them in reading. I know it did for my stepson.

David Petersen reads his book Mouse Guard during the Guys Read wrap-up party at Noel Wien Library.

Literacy Council Director, Mike Kolasa, prepares a Guys Read presentation at Barnette Elementary School.

Volunteer Support

The program is presented in every school in the district with 4th grade boys, twice per week, for four weeks, usually from late January through February. Reading takes place during the twenty minute period. Maybe you can read every week, maybe you can only read once. Whatever time you have, we have a spot for you.

Financial Support

The Guys Read Program is funded by Contributions from local businesses and private individuals. If you’d like to help, donations can be sent to:

FNSB Public Library
Guys Read Program
1215 Cowles Street
Fairbanks, AK 99701

If you’d like more information on the program, email:

Guys Read Manual