Real Men Read forges ahead with online format

Monday, March 1, 2021

COVID-19 is reshaping how children learn and is placing strains on the education system for kids across our community.

The United Way’s Real Men Read program is not immune to the pandemic’s challenges, but has found a way to carry out its mission to improve child literacy in a safe and impactful way.

With more than 11,000 free books distributed to local kindergartners since 2015, the United Way’s Real Men Read program continues in its sixth year within a virtual format.

Each month between February and May, the United Way is providing free online reading resources and videos to children and families across Putnam County. In addition to the online resources, every enrolled kindergartner in the county will receive a free copy of the month’s book selection.

February’s book of choice, “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats, was selected for children as much of the month was covered in snow. Real Men Read mentor Scott Monnett was the first reader in a Real Men Read Storytime Online series, which can be viewed for free on the United Way or Putnam County’s website.

“We’ve been very intent on ensuring this beloved program continues during this challenging school year,” United Way Executive Director Chris Flegal said. “When these kids get to see their favorite Real Men Read mentor reading to them in our Storytime Online web series, as well as get to take the books home to enjoy with their families, they are experiencing the excitement of reading and learning.”

The goal of the program is to equip families and children with helpful tools for reading together, while pairing each kindergarten classroom with a Real Men Read mentor. This helps the kids get excited to read and create positive memories.

This year, the program plans to distribute 1,890 free books to every enrolled kindergartner in Putnam County.

To access the Storytime Online videos and helpful reading guides, visit

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