Guys Read Gals Read, Inc. is a nonprofit volunteer organization registered with the State of Alaska and a 501c3 registered with the IRS (EIN47-2634465). Our purpose is to show children that reading is fun, and that many adults enjoy reading. When a person reads for pleasure, they’re more likely to read regularly, seriously, and skillfully. To help foster lifelong reading, Guys and Gals Read exposes children to an array of books that are age appropriate and pleasurable to read.
What is the problem we’re trying to solve?
Research has shown that there is a literacy achievement gap between boys and girls, and that many children, and most boys, stop reading for pleasure around grades 3-4. A number of elements contribute to the problem: lack of reader role models and books at home, differences in brain development, and too little exposure to entertaining books in general.
The Guys Read Gals Read approach makes fun, kid-friendly books more readily available, and provides a variety of great adult reader role models.
What is our approach?
- Visit schools during 4th grade lunchtime;
- Donate copies of the featured books to the school libraries;
- Read well-written, heavily illustrated, kid-friendly books to the students while they eat lunch;
- Project the pages and point to the screen to show where we’re reading;
- Read only the first part of each book (to encourage students to use their school libraries and finish the books on their own);
- Hold program parties at the public library (featuring games, food, and books) to expose non-library-using families to modern public library services.
Why read Graphic Novels?
With fun illustrations and fast-paced stories, graphic novels, i.e. “comics,” allow even the lowest level readers to enjoy the full Guys Read experience. Studies show that reading comics develops vocabulary and comprehension skills, since the vocabulary in 4th grade graphic novels is often at the 6th grade vocabulary level or higher. This is possible because the pictures help readers to understand the story’s context, while reading the text in graphic literature still utilizes the same major areas of the brain as reading unillustrated text.
For Guys Read Gals Read purposes, the most important thing is that comics allow a broader range of students to consider themselves recreational readers. Thinking of themselves in this way will help make life-long readers of many children who would otherwise grow up without the advantages of being an active reader.
In 2001, noted children’s author Jon Scieszka created a nonprofit literary organization and website called Guys Read to promote boys’ reading. Greg Hill, then Director of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Public Libraries in Fairbanks, Alaska, was inspired by the website. Five years later, he expanded on basic concepts presented there to develop a unique program, also called Guys Read, in which pairs of volunteer readers visit schools to read heavily illustrated, boy-friendly books to the students. The program further expanded in 2010 to include Gals Read and was soon implemented in every public elementary school in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.
The coronavirus pandemic of the 2020-21 school year brought new challenges to the program, including school closures and limited building access. To continue our mission of connecting kids with fun stories, volunteers developed a process for making videos of GR2 adult volunteers reading new featured books. The videos are hosted on this website and can be streamed by students at school and at home. Multiple copies of the books have been purchased and distributed to all the local public elementary schools’ libraries and public libraries and are available for borrowing.
Our program relies on our volunteers to take their stories and enthusiasm for reading to the students. To find out how you can volunteer with our program, please visit our Volunteer page.
As a nonprofit, our program depends on the financial support of sponsors large and small. To learn about becoming a donor, please visit our Donor page.
Due to program alterations caused by Covid-19, the manual is being updated to reflect new technology being used, and the revision will be completed soon. Please contact us to be notified when it’s ready, and thanks for your patience.
Want to know all the nuts and bolts in our program? You can access our full Guys Read Gals Read Basic Program Manual here.
“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.”
“To quote my 4th grade boys, ‘It was awesome’.”
“It means a lot to think that we quite literally sat in their same seats in the school library, and our time at U-Park helped shape us into individuals with a love of learning and a smorgasbord of interests – reading is a part of that!”