Boys Book Club
Changing the lives of young men in Philadelphia
WHARTON-WESLEY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Community Outreach Ministry
In the early 2010, I met one of the original club members at a local after school program. I was provided with an opportunity to work with him and we chose to read a book together two times a week. After the completion of the book, the young boy wanted to know “what was going to happen next?” As you can imagine, I was totally surprised and caught off guard. I suggested that he identify four other young males and we would start a book club. A few weeks went by and finally to my surprise there were four new boys (ages ten – twelve) waiting to learn more about the book club and decided to join. We chose a book that was part of a three part book series and began reading orally as a group two times a week for about forty-five minutes. After the completion of the first book, a small celebration (pizza, wings and soft drinks) was held and framed certificates of completion were provided to the boys. Immediately after the celebration, two additional boys joined the group. We continued reading two times a week, completed two more books, had another celebration and concluded the school year.
To my utter surprise, the boys wanted to continue reading over the summer of 2010. During July and August 2010, the seven boys identified a book of their choice to read. Each boy was sent a self-addressed stamped envelope, which they used to send the completed book report form back to me. Upon receipt, I sent each boy a $5.00 McDonald’s gift card. By the end of August 2011, all seven boys completed two book reports. Since the boys were no longer at the same school, a back to school celebration was held at a local restaurant. All seven boys, several parents and guests attended the celebration. A local stationery store provided school supplies for the entire group of boys. Moreover, two new boys joined The Boy’ Book Club.
In October 2010, we began meeting over breakfast at the local McDonald’s restaurant. Most of the boys walk and several take public transportation to come to our meeting on the third Saturday of each month. After eating breakfast, each boy orally presents his book report. During several of our meetings, African American males were invited to share with the boys the importance of reading and the role that reading has played in their life.
During the last four and a half years, we have had several special celebrations and visited historical sites in Philadelphia and Washington, DC. Each boy has received a personalized photo album that documents his participation in The Boys’ Book Club. The boys live in several low-income sections of Philadelphia. They all attend public schools. Currently, we receive ongoing encouragement from the parents/guardians. The boys are excited about being able to visit local colleges, universities and other historical sites.
In 2012, The Boys’ Book Club became a 501© (3) non-profit ministry of the Wharton-Wesley United Methodist Church and is able to receive tax deductible contributions to help sustain its work.
To provide youth with guidance to pursue maximum personal excellence and achievement.
To ensure that every young person understands that reading is the gateway to their future.
Our club recently got the attention of the media. Learn more about this exciting honor.