11-year-old Sidney Keys III has started a book club to celebrate Black boys, and it looks like it is much needed.
According to St. Louis Public Radio, if you Google “boys and reading,” thousands of results on the gender gap between boys and girls will surface. A 2010 study from the Center for Education Policy found that boys lag significantly behind in girls in reading proficiency in the country.
Keys started a reading club for boys his age to band together in their love for reading. Books N Bros not only has an emphasis on making reading fun, but uplifting young African-American males.
“Books N Bros is a book club for boys and we read books and African-American literature because every time I got to the library at my school, there aren’t many African-American literature books there,” Keys told St. Louis On The Air. “I already love to read and since we don’t get that much time to read in school, we just discuss in groups. I wanted to read a book but I also wanted to discuss it with other people.”
About six months ago, Winnie Caldwell took her son to visit a local bookstore that focused on African-American children’s literature. While at EyeSeeMe, Winnie recorded a video of her son, Sidney reading in the establishment. The video soon went viral on Facebook, and caused the pair to sit down and think about what to do next.
As a result, Books N Bros was born.
“He hadn’t seen [a bookstore] like that before and I certainly never had, so he was making himself comfortable on the floor, reading a book,” Caldwell said. “… and it was so shocking for him to relate to someone on the cover in a positive aspect rather than it be some negative urban story we see a lot. I would like to make sure he sees himself in being whatever he can be.”
Books N Bros has a target demographic of boys ages 8 to 10. Caldwell says that statistically, that’s the age range when they stop reading.
“We wanted to combat that,” she said.