Many thanks to Doug Johnson for blogging about a wonderful program created by Minnesota librarian Tori Jensen called Real Men Read. Both Education World and School Library Journal have featured terrific articles explaining why Jensen started the program (to help increase reading among boys) and how she went about building this program that has male figures in the school and community front and center as role models for reading.

The centerpiece of this program is the series of READ posters featuring teachers and administrators with their favorite book, magazine, or newspaper. Jensen also received money from a grant that funds the program to purchase books that would appeal to male readers.

Another feature of the program (and one of my favs) is a blog that features guest posts about favorite books/reading materials or reading experiences from the men who participate in the program.

In addition to the blog, they also keep a Shelfari program! Shelfari is similar to LibraryThing—you can “catalog” or tag and review your favorite books.

Real Men R’s Profile – Shelfari via kwout

I found this program to be so inspiring that I plan to replicate it (with some of my own twists) at Creekview High School.  Here are the ideas I have so far:

  • I would like to go with a theme of Real Guys Read—this will include male adult figures in our school (administrators and teachers) as well as male students who love reading and are regulars in our library.   Students will have the option of posing as a group or with their reader friends.
  • Our featured “poster guys” can pose with a favorite book, magazine, or newspaper (can you think of anything else I may be omitting)?
  • I will use our READ software to create the posters.
  • I will create a Flickr gallery of our READ posters.
  • I would like to have a blog with guest posts from those featured in our posters along with a LibraryThing account.
  • I would like to create a YouTube Channel with short videos featuring our poster guys discussing their favorite reading materials or reading experiences.
  • Guest speakers in which our students and poster guys can discuss favorite books or reading materials.   This would be an open book discussion that could be held during lunch or before/after school hours.

I am also considering a companion program along the lines of “Smart Girls Read”—a program to celebrate our female readers as well.

I will be meeting with our principal in the next week to share these ideas before I formally recruit “poster guys” to participate.  However, I already have three of Creekview’s most respected male teachers lined up for their photo shoot!

If you out there as readers have additional suggestions, please email me at or post your suggestions here!

4 thoughts on “Inspiration: Real Men Read Program

  1. Teachers and administrators? Shelfari? “Smart” Girls read? This is going nowhere fast, people! Sounds like a lot of preaching to the choir. You need people respected for things other than reading who also happen to read–like Time Green, the NFL player and novelist–real guy guys. Not a bunch of pencil necks like me…


  2. Dear Mr. Randolph (Teacherninja):

    I am not sure if you took time to read the articles linked in the blog post, Doug Johnson’s endorsement of the original Real Men Read program (I see you follow his blog and seem to respect him based on your blog posts), or Tori Jensen’s web pages on this program, but if I am understanding you correctly, you seem to think that high school boys will be more inspired by READ posters featuring celebrities and athletes than posters or a blog featuring their peers (from all backgrounds) and adult figures they respect in their school.

    In my seventeen years of experience as an English teacher and high school media specialist, students pay little heed to the celebrity based ALA READ posters. While students certainly do pay attention and are influenced by pop culture, the overwhelming majority of students are influenced by those in their daily lives–their friends, their family, and significant adults which can, believe it or not, actually include teachers (and not just coaches). The entire point of a program like this is to help students see their peers and adult figures in their lives modeling and sharing their favorite reads, whether it be a traditional novel, a magazine, a comic book, or a graphic novel.

    For most teens, the peer group is the biggest influence in their lives (you may want to take time to read some of the more recent research on teen/youth culture and/or work by Michele Gorman, one of the country’s most respected youth librarians [and not just by adults…by the teens she serves in her public library]). My hope is that by having students and adults participate in this program, reading (of all kinds) can be portrayed in a positive light and value multiple literacies. If the program reaches even only a few students, then the effort is still worthwhile.

    I respect your right to disagree and honestly voice your opinion. However, one of the most important skills in our profession as librarians (and I see from your blog that you are currently a student in the SLM program at my alma mater, UGA) and as participants in the blogosphere is to dialogue with a professional tone and constructive criticism rather than dismissive arrogance. While your point is well taken, your ideas are overshadowed and diminished by the overwhelming sarcasm of your response.


  3. Wow!

    That was a much better thought out and written response than I deserved, that’s for sure!

    I abundantly apologize for the “overwhelming sarcasm of [my] response.” It was intended only to be amusingly snarky.

    I admit that I did not read every article linked to your admittedly well-written and laid-out blog post. I did not take the time to notice that respected peers were being promoted as well as the adult figures I was referring to.

    My muddled response was more along the lines of pointing out that the intended audience (upper grade male reluctant readers) aren’t going to respond to images of people like administrators and counselors reading when they probably already realize and see these people reading. The kids that are already avid readers don’t need the motivation because they’re already avid readers (this is where I dropped in the ham-fisted “preaching to the choir” bit). I clearly did not read carefully because you do in fact go on to point out that you intend to show off adults “as well as male students who love reading and are regulars in our library. Students will have the option of posing as a group or with their reader friends.”

    I once worked at a middle school which, rather than bland nameplates, hung photos of staff members reading their favorite book on their classroom and office doors. It was a wonderful touch.

    Mea culpa.

    I will endeavor to lighten up on the snark and be a more responsible blogosphere citizen!

    Thank you for taking the time.


  4. I am so sorry that I did not see this site and conversation way back in January! The Real Men Read program was WAY more successful than I ever imagined in my wildest dreams. I will be writing the project summary for the Panther Foundation in the next few weeks. We are analyzing test scores now, but I can tell you that the high school library circulation numbers for male students increased by 80% during the 2008 – 2009 school year. This is 8 times greater than I hoped for in my original grant application! All my Real Men have been asking me if they can choose a new book for this year. 😦 I don’t have the money to do it again. I am hoping the Panther Foundation will consider funding a new reading program this year….


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