- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Five times a year, Scott Shishman, a market president at Old National Bank, reads a book with kindergartners in Amy Thackery’s class at Summit Elementary School. The tiny learners sit cross-legged on a carpet, reaching their hands up as high as they can into the air for a chance to answer Shishman’s questions.

He wants to know what they think of Goldilocks, and he’s come to the right classroom, because kindergartners have plenty of thoughts on the subject.

“You should knock,” said Caleb Ayala when he found out Goldilocks just walked right in to the Three Bears’ house.

Later, when Shishman read that Goldilocks helped herself to a bowl of porridge, Caleb felt she had gone too far. “You should not eat people’s soup,” he said.

Shishman introduced the students to the word “slurp,” and they all practiced making slurping sounds with a few giggles mixed in.

Goldilocks sitting down and breaking Baby Bear’s chair was no laughing matter, however.

Little Makayla King knew a busted chair would make Baby Bear sad. Her classmate Parker Rochester-Nguyen offered a suggestion. “You could just tell the people you broke the chair by accident,” he said.

“Did Goldilocks make good choices?” Shishman asked. The students all lifted their hands into the air, this time to show a thumbs down.

Interactions like these between men in the community and Monroe County Community School Corp. kindergartners are happening in 38 classrooms with just over 800 kids as part of the Foundation for MCCSC’s Real Men Read program.

“The kids love it; the teachers love it; and I think the men might love it the most,” foundation executive director Cyrilla Helm told The Herald-Times (https://bit.ly/1vJEgIl ).

From Helm’s point of view, having men - or “MENtors” - come in to read with kids is an opportunity to show them that guys like reading, too.

“Men are part of the program because we feel that a lot of times that there’s not a positive male role model in children’s families or if there is that male influence, they may not see them read,” she said. Helm noted that most teachers are women, and this is a chance to show kids that men value education and reading as well. As part of the early literacy program, kindergartners also get to take a copy of the book home to share with their families.

Shishman’s children are older now, so leading little ones through a short vocabulary lesson, reading and then talking about Goldilocks’ decisions is a real treat.

“There’s a lot of energy and a lot of fun, and if we can set a good example of trying to get them to read, then that’s also good,” Shishman said. “I would definitely do it again. It’s fun, and I’d get others to do it.”

Real Men Read started this year at MCCSC and was made possible by a grant from the Duke Energy Foundation. The program will be funded for two years, but Helm hopes to find funding to continue it for even longer.

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Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com


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