Sidney Keys III is an avid reader, and he wants to show other boys his age the joy of reading. The 11-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri, is the founder of “Books N Bros,” a reading club with two goals—to promote reading among African-American boys aged 8 to 12 and to celebrate black literature.
Sidney was inspired to form Books N Bros after visiting the EyeSeeMe bookstore in University City, Missouri. The bookstore promotes diversity in reading by offering a wide selection of African-American children’s books. In an interview with St. Louis Public Radio, Sidney said his school library doesn’t have a lot of African-American literature.
He discussed his idea for a reading club with his mom and they decided a book club targeting boys between the ages of 8 to 10 would be best because that’s the age when boys start to lag behind girls in reading proficiency.
Books N Bros has a $20 monthly membership fee. Members get books, worksheets with questions about the book they’re reading, and refreshments. The club mainly focuses on African-American literature, but it’s open to boys of all backgrounds.
Sidney has held meetings once a month since September 2016. They’ve read books like The Supadupa Kid, Hidden Figures, and Danny Dollar Millionaire Extraordinaire. The author of the latter, Ty Allan Jackson, joined one of their monthly meetings via Skype.
The club also invites “Big Bros” to attend their meetings to offer advice and motivation to the boys. Local organizations are also helping. Serving with the Badge has donated 200 books to the program.
“My motivation is I already love to read but it would be awesome, even better, to read with other people,” Sidney said. “I want to keep doing it because I don’t know what will make me stop reading because I love to read,”
So far, Books N Bros has 10 members, and it’s growing. Hopefully it’ll catch on and more kids will get to experience the joy of reading.