Black excellence

Sidney Keys, 11, started a book club for young black boys to improve literacy rates by showing them characters who looked like them

BOOK CLUB: Sidney Keys III

MEET SIDNEY Keys III, an 11-year-old boy from St Louis who is on a mission to improve literacy among young, black boys.

Sidney started his own reading club for boys called Books N Bros to show his peers that reading can be fun by showing them books with characters who looked like them.

“Every time I go to a library at my school, there aren’t many African American literature books there,” he told local radio station, St. Louis on the Air.

However, after a visit to a bookstore in Missouri, that promotes African American children’s literature, he realised representation was the key to engaging black boys like himself.

Sidney’s mum, Winnie Caldwell, shot a video of him reading in the store in August that gained more than 62,000 views.

She told the radio station that her son had never been to a store that housed so many books that reflected his culture.

“You get to a point when he is 11 years old and it was so shocking for him to relate to someone on the cover in a positive aspect rather than it be some negative urban story we see a lot,” she told the local outlet.

Sidney immediately had the idea to form a book club targeting boys aged 8-10 years old, which, they found, to be the age their reading skills begin to lag behind girls.

Books N Bros meets monthly to discuss one book with a black protagonist, which they vote on.

Some of the books the club has read so far are Hidden Figures, The Supadupa Kid and A Song for Harlem: Scraps of Time.

Though they focus on books with black characters, Books N Bros invites boys of all backgrounds to join for a monthly membership fee of $20.


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