Books 2 Boys initiative launched in Midlands

COLUMBIA, S.C. (September 20, 2016) – Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, in collaboration with the Richland Library and City of Columbia Parks and Recreation, will kick-off the Mayor’s Books 2 Boys initiative at 4 p.m. on Sept. 27 at Martin Luther King Park.

“This is something we’re incredibly excited to get going because of the genuine influence it will have on boys’ lives,” said Mayor Benjamin. “If we can make reading as popular or as fun as sports, we’ll change boys’ outlook and futures.”

The kickoff event will be set up like a book fair with approximately 1,500 books from which the boys can choose. The books will vary in reading level for boys in grades 1-5 and will be set up by age group.

The purchasing and selecting of the books is being coordinated by the library through funds from the Mayor's office. Hand-selected by librarians at Richland Library, the books will be specific to topics and genres that may be of interest to boys of those ages.

"This type of partnership is a wonderful team effort, enabling our library to put a lot of momentum behind one of our main missions-- making reading accessible and enjoyable for all children,” said Tamara King, Richland Library communications director.

Richland Library will also provide the boys with drawstring book bags and other reading materials.

“Growing up, I found reading to be an enjoyable activity while I was in the various city parks, and I hope the Books 2 Boys program will bring the same excitement and joy of reading to the boys in our parks today,” said Carey Rich, superintendent of Columbia Parks and Recreation.

There will be additional book fairs set up for boys throughout the fall sports season at other parks in the city.

Frank Martin, USC men’s basketball coach, Corey Miller, former NFL and Gamecock football player and WACH FOX sports anchor, Cocky and USC cheerleaders will also be in attendance for the kickoff event.

The kickoff event is not open to the public but will instead provide books to boys from the park’s after-school program. More information about the other book fairs will be available in the next few weeks.

The Mayor’s Books 2 Boys initiative falls under the My Brother’s Keeper milestone of having boys read at grade level by third grade.