The young men of the Appoquinimink School District will get a special treat at the fifth annual Real Men Read event Feb. 21.
And that treat is that award winning young adult author Roland Smith will be giving the keynote speech.
"[Smith] wanted to be a writer ever since he was 5 years old, but in college he ended up working in a children's zoo," Payne said. "This led him to many adventures all over the world."
Now, Smith uses these adventures to inspire many of his stories.
Real Men Read is a district-wide effort to get male students more excited about reading.
In the annual event's first four years, attendance has grown from 300 during the first year to a turnout of nearly 1,000 last year, Payne said.
Along with Roland Smith's keynote speech, there will be a craft with "Where the Wild Things Are," and other fast paced sessions for the boys to participate in, she said.
"Boys should come to Real Men Read because it totally rocks!" Payne, the Appoquinimink High School librarian said. "They will get to see that there are tons of other boys out there who love to read as much as they do and being a reader is a really cool thing."
Originally started to capture the attention of the males in the community and to open a dialogue about what really constitutes reading in everyday life, Payne said that the event is open to everyone.
"We know that boys are still behind when it comes to reading," she said, "and we also know that reading for pleasure is a really good predictor of academic success."
Studies have shown that girls tend to be ahead of boys in reading.
Another way Payne says that the boys get engaged is that they bring a male reading role model.
"Two big factors that impact boys and reading are attitude and the lack of a male reading role model," she said. "We want to show boys that reading is cool and necessary whether you want to be an MMA Fighter, serve in the Armed Forces, or design video games."
Payne also said that another goal is to get adult males to realize that their own reading habits and attitude matter.
Even though most of the topics are meant to cater to young men, girls are welcome to attend too.
The event is open to all students in the Appoquinimink School District.
IF YOU GO
What Real Men Read
When Thursday, Feb. 21
Dinner in the cafeteria from 5 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.
Page 2 of 2 - Keynote speaker 6:20 p.m. in the auditorium
Session 1 at 7:05 p.m. and Session 2 at 7:35 p.m.
Book fair 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Where Alfred G. Waters Middle School