Columbia Mayor Benjamin, others spread joy of reading as part of extended Books 2 Boys program

The next round of book fairs will provide approximately 1,500 books to boys in grades 1-5

Folks in Columbia are hoping to spread the joys and benefits of reading to young boys — again.

Steve Benjamin

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin (Photo provided)

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, along with Richland Library and City of Columbia Parks and Recreation, will host two additional Books 2 Boys book fairs in November, the mayor’s office announced Monday.

“The kickoff event (in September) was awesome, and I’m excited to give even more books to boys in Columbia,” Benjamin said. “If we can make reading as popular or as fun as sports, we’ll change boys’ outlooks and futures.”

The book fair events are not open to the public but instead will provide books to boys from local after-school programs.

The first book fair will begin at 4 p.m. Thursday in Woodland Park, at 6500 Olde Knight Parkway. Fifth Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson and Benjamin will be guest readers for the boys who attend.

The second book fair will begin at 4 p.m. Nov. 17 in Hyatt Park, at 950 Jackson Ave. Storyteller Darion McCloud will be the guest reader.

“It is so rewarding to see the excitement the books themselves have generated,” said Amy Schofield, Richland Library community outreach manager.

“Whether their interests lie in animals, superheroes or sports, the boys were able to pick their own reading paths at the kick-off event,” Schofield added. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Mayor Benjamin and the City of Columbia’s Parks and Recreation Department for these upcoming book fairs to address some of the challenges often associated with reading and books among young boys.”

Richland Library also will provide the boys with drawstring book bags and other reading materials.

“The Books to Boys Kickoff had a great turnout, and I’m looking forward to continuing this momentum,” said Carey Rich, superintendent of Columbia Parks and Recreation. “I’m truly excited about this initiative that will allow more than 300 boys to be given the opportunity to receive books and become avid readers.”

The book fairs will provide approximately 1,500 books from which the boys can choose. The books will vary in reading levels for boys in first through fifth grades and will be set up by age group.

The purchasing and selecting of the books is being coordinated by Richland Library. Hand-selected by librarians at Richland Library, the books are specific to topics and genres that might be of interest to boys of those ages.

The Mayor’s Books 2 Boys initiative, originally the Mayors Barbershop Books program, is supported by a gift from CIGNA insurance.

The initiative falls under President Barack Obama’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ milestone of having boys read at grade level by third grade, the mayor’s office said.

Categories: Columbia, Education, Hometown, Local News, Richland County