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Kalamazoo fathers book more time with children to encourage reading

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Dads in the Kalamazoo area are stepping up to be more involved in their child’s education through a group called Fathers Do Read.

The group encourages more males to read books with their kids.

Fathers Do Read Director David Jones said reading time offers an opportunity for more males to be present in a child’s life and to take responsibility in their personal growth.

“Our lives are improving, and I believe as fathers we’re improving the lives of our own kids,” Jones said.

Jones said he started reading to his son before he was born. It’s a bond Jones said some kids don’t have these days.

“When we look at the news today, we see all the violence in the schools with our young people. When you hear all the tragedies in the neighborhoods, it’s always more of the young men,” Jones said. “If men would take the responsibility for their kids and get involved in their kids’ education, however they can, starting at home, I guarantee we’ll start seeing a difference in our young men.”

It’s a change Jones said can happen, starting by picking up a book. He started the group Father’s Do Read to help shape the education and future of young boys and girls.

“It’s really our responsibility —I’m talking about at home. Too often we leave that responsibility up to the school or teachers to do everything, but no. Fathers Do Read, we realize we’re doing this at home," Jones said. “We read ourselves, whether it’s on finances, relationships, business. Then we apply that same information to our everyday life and we believe as our lives are improving. As fathers in return we impart that same knowledge to our kids.”

The group reads outside of home as well. They meet at least once a month at area libraries and in the schools their children attend.

“Literally read in the classroom and take time out to share with the kids the importance of reading,” Jones said.

Jones’ 10-year-old son, David, said his dad makes it fun to read.

"He expresses his voice like when there’s an exclamation mark and he makes different voices for the different characters,” David said of his dad.

Though it’s only 30 minutes at a time, it’s the moment behind the book that Jones believes can help make all the difference in a child’s life.

“I want to break that cycle of these young men going in and out of these institutions, most times because they didn’t have a loving father or somebody to tell them you’re valuable, you can do it, I believe in you,” Jones said. “They need to see us involved because our young men are going down the wrong path and we believe as fathers we can help change that.”

Father’s Do Read is welcoming more dads and volunteers to join the group. Anyone interested in learning more can contact the group at fathersdoread@yahoo.com.

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