Community role models inspire passion for reading in kids

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Helping to foster a lifelong love of reading, a local non-profit, Guys Read Gals Read Inc., is sitting down with elementary students all over the borough to show them that reading is fun. The group visits all 18 public elementary schools in the borough to show that reading is for everyone.

President of the non-profit, Greg Hill, said that the target group of this program are 4th graders, “That's when most American boys, the majority of American boys, stop reading for the fun of it and many girls do to, and so we just try to show them that it's not all on the iPad, it's not all on their smart phone. There's some really fun things in print too,” he said.

The idea began 13 years ago, and around two-thousand young boys and girls have taken advantage of the program, “Whether it's Harry Potter, whether its comic books, whatever if they continue reading then they start finding that books can open other doors to them, to learn about the world at large and also to cope with the world as they get older. It also helps them in school quite a bit. If they read for fun, their chances of success in school are immeasurably improved,” he added.

It’s not only beneficial for the students but to the volunteers as well. Bobby Burgess is not only a board member of the non-profit but he volunteers as a reader as well.

“This is always a great experience. It's been incredibly fun working with these kids. You come in and you see these kids really get attracted to these books, and it shows that I'm making an impact," he said.

Each school gets a visit from volunteer readers eight times out of the year, twice a week for two weeks in the fall and then again in the winter. After each reading session, three copies of the book read for that day, are donated to that school's library.