Class Act: Real Men Read


By Evie B Allen

BENTON -- What do pastors, photographers, race car drivers and even firemen have in common? For one day they came together to read to Franklin County students.

Benton fourth grade teacher Dana Kalaher started the Real Men Read program. The program invites professional men from around the area to read to fourth graders in their classrooms.

"Men aren't always the hard macho individuals that they're always made out to be," says Benton Fire Chief Gary Kasper.

This is Kasper's second year participating. He says he volunteers because he wants to show kids a different side to men.

"Even though we are male, we do like to come in and do something.
There's a softer side of us that shows that we do care," says Kasper.

Kalaher says the children pick up on that softer side.

"It's like when my Dad read to me when I was little," says fourth grader Amelia McLain.

This time has also proven to be educational for Amelia and her twin sister, Madilyn.

"It's fun, and they tell you a lot about what they do and how you can do when you grow up. And I guess it would be really fun, and you could have the experience because if you've never had a man read to you or anything like that, now you have the chance too," says Amelia.

This is also a time for the men to share their hobbies and answer any questions the children have.

"It feels like someone, like a hero came in and read to you," says Madilyn.

Kalaher says she's glad the program has made such a positive impression on the students.

"You work real hard and plan your lesson plans and try to do the very best you can. And when they talk about it later on down the road, you know it's there. You know it's gonna last."

Kalaher says the program has grown over the years. She invites more readers to particpate next year.
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