Taking on the persona of a cat pretending to be a chihuahua, Bill Merkel reads "Skippyjon Jones in the Doghouse" to Andrea Minor's kindergarten class Tuesday at Central Elementary. Merkel is a "MENtor" involved in the Real Men Read program through the United Way of Putnam County. Since December, the program has sent volunteers -- all men from the community -- into the 18 Putnam County kindergarten classrooms. Besides promoting literacy through positive male role models, the program provides a copy of each book to each child. More than 2,000 books have been distributed to approximately 400 children. Under the guidance of program chairman Shane Johnson and United Way of Putnam County Executive Director Jennifer Edwards, Real Men Read is concluding a successful first year in Putnam County. A two-year grant from Duke Energy ensures funding through the 2015-16 school year. Other titles in the series have included "Zack's Alligator" in December, "Olivia and Her Ducklings" in January, "I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato" in February and "Wemberly Worried" in March. The United Way of Putnam County hosts its annual dinner from 6-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 23 at the Bainbridge Community Center.