The U.S. Department of Education found that, generally, the more students read for fun on their own time, the higher their reading scores. Between 1984 and 1996, however, the percentage of 12th grade students reporting that they "never" or "hardly ever" read for fun increased from 9 percent to 16 percent.
SJ Boys Read! was founded in the summer of 2008 when Kyle Thumar and Cameron Pendino were approached by their elementary school teachers Mrs. BJ Lemaire and Mrs. Amy Miele to start a reading group for young boys. The teachers made Kyle and Cameron aware of studies demonstrating that boys had significantly lower reading scores on standardized tests and were less interested in reading than girls. The goal of this reading group would be to expose boys to various genres and authors, thus stimulating their interest in reading.
With guidance from their teachers, Kyle and Cameron made a request to the local book store’s (Barnes and Noble) children’s department to hold SJ Boys Read! events at their store. Nikhil Thumar was brought in to market these events to young boys.
During an event, each book is discussed in small groups with Kyle and Cameron leading the group. Questions and games are included to engage the young boys and to make reading fun. Shailen Doshi became a group leader when the program expanded to the Moorestown Public Library to reach even younger boys.
Over the years, special guests have attended different events to promote boys reading. These guests include ESPN reporter Sal Palantonio, former NFL player Bill Conaty, authors Dan Gutman and Mac Barnett, and illustrator Adam Rex. In the future SJ Boys Read! hopes to continue to grow and reach more boys, affirming that reading is fun and important to a developing young mind.