When a father reads to his child, the benefits are powerful. Studies show that dads are vital to their children’s literacy development, and reading together can help form unique, lifelong bonds. That’s why Kenneth Braswell, a national board member of the Little Free Library nonprofit organization, is on a mission to inspire more dads to read with their kids.
Braswell, based in Atlanta, is the director of the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearing House and CEO of Fathers Incorporated, a nonprofit organization that works to build stronger families and communities through the promotion of responsible fatherhood. The Real Dads Read initiative, launched by Braswell and Fathers Incorporated, aims to accomplish three things:
- Encourage children to develop a love of reading.
- Improve children’s literacy skills and educational outcomes.
- Strengthen the bonds between fathers and their children.
Little Free Library book exchanges are an important piece of the Real Dads Read program, bringing books to kids and their dads in an accessible—and irresistible—way.
More than 50 barbershops in the Atlanta area have a Little Free Library book exchange, thanks to Braswell’s efforts. In addition, he is working to place book exchanges at Atlanta’s public schools; Fathers Incorporated recently placed its 80th book exchange at M. Agnes Jones Elementary, the first STEM-certified school in metro Atlanta.
“When we began Real Dads Read two short years ago, we never imagined that we would impact so many fathers and their children,” Braswell said in a press release. “With the support of Little Free Library and Hachette Books FI has been able to distribute around 10,000 books in Metro Atlanta. With the help of new partners, we are looking to exceed our goal of 100 literacy centers in barbershops and schools by the end of 2019.”
As if Braswell weren’t busy enough with his work as a literacy and fatherhood advocate, he is also an author in his own right. His children’s books include Daddy’s Family Tree, Daddy Is Feeling Blue, and Daddy, There’s a Noise Outside.
We’re proud to have Kenneth Braswell on our national board of directors and to partner with Real Dads Read on their efforts in Atlanta. We join their belief that fathers can make an immeasurable difference in their children’s lives, one book at a time.
We asked Kenneth Braswell to share a few words with us about his passion for literacy and fatherhood:
LFL: Why do you think it’s vital for dads to get involved with their children’s reading lives?
KB: When fathers are involved in the lives of their children, especially their education, children learn more, perform better in school, and exhibit healthier behavior. Even when fathers do not share a home with their children, their active involvement can have a lasting and positive impact. There are countless ways to be involved in your child’s education at all ages. Reading is a fundamental skill. A child’s ability to read proficiently by third grade is the most significant predictor of his or her school success, high school completion, and future economic stability. However, approximately 80% of low-income children will not achieve this crucial milestone. Our program, Real Dads Read, attempts to change this outcome by engaging barbershops and Real Dads Read clubs in schools and churches to encourage fathers to read to their children. Reading to children is a clear and beneficial way for fathers to spend quality time with their children.
LFL: What makes you proudest about your work with Fathers Incorporated and Real Dads Read?
KB: When we began Real Dads Read our only goal was to provide a few books to barbershops that would encourage dads and their children to read. After two years, it warms my heart when we walk in barbershops and they talk about how the placement of a bookshelf has stimulated their child to read more. It took a moment for FI to realize the impact we were having on dads and their children. Then as we began to expand by placing Little Free Libraries at schools, and more and more teachers called, we knew we had something special.
LFL: Why did you want to become a national board member at the Little Free Library nonprofit organization?
KB: I think the path of me coming to Little Free Library was divine. Meeting Todd Bol and listening to his vision, having him come to Atlanta to meet me because he was intrigued by Real Dads Read and talking hours on end with him, helped me realize how closely related our organizational missions were aligned. The more I spoke to him, the more I realized working with LFL was something that I desired to do. Never imagined that I would become a board member, however when I was asked, it felt right. Accepting would make Todd proud and give me the opportunity to grow both of our visions and impact the world.
I believe in the vision and potential of Little Free Library. There is so much of whole untapped by the work Todd begun. He left behind a tremendous legacy in the good hands of a dedicated board and staff. I am overwhelmed to have the opportunity to play a role in its development and future.