Their goal is to make reading fun while encouraging fathers and caregivers to read to their kids daily.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Two Philadelphia fathers are working to help students cultivate a love of reading while encouraging fathers and caregivers to get involved daily.
It was an energetic start to the day for students at Eugenio Maria De Hostos Charter School in the East Oak Lane section of Philadelphia.
Brent Johnstone and Akeiff Staples, founders of Fathers Read 365, led an interactive program for students Wednesday morning.
They're Temple grads turned authors. Johnstone and Staples started the non-profit in 2017. Their goal is to make reading fun while encouraging fathers and caregivers to read to their kids daily.
"Susan Neuman did study on urban communities, and in urban communities 300 kids on average are sharing one book, whereas in the suburbs, they have 13 books per child," Johnstone said.
The men work to bridge that gap by giving every student 13 free books during school visits.
"We first went on a campaign of reading to 30 daycares in 30 days and started with taking books from our kids' shelves," Staples said. "We started with three books then, and we're now over 100,000 books that we've distributed throughout the city."
Their goal is to eventually distribute 100,000 books per year. Johnstone and Staples read their personal stories to students because they say representation matters.
"They get to engage with individuals that look like them, us being two black fathers," Staples said.
Their efforts at Eugenio De Hostos Charter focus on bilingual literacy.
"We were able to find a book distributor, Book Smiles in Pennsauken, NJ, who has thousands of them and we wanted to make sure that when we're in Latino communities we're giving them books written by Latino authors and also books that's written in Spanish," Johnstone said.
All of it is made possible through partnerships with supporters such as William Penn Foundation and Vanguard Charities.
"They are great messengers to families to help them understand the opportunities they have every day," said Elliot Weinbaum, Chief Financial Officer of the William Penn Foundation.
Up next for Fathers Read 365: they said their documentary, Reading is Love, is a finalist in the New Jersey International Film Festival in June.