These Two Dads Are on a Mission to Give Away 100,000 Books Each Year

Brent Johnstone and Akeiff Staples hope to inspire young children and their parents to read more together. Learn more about their nonprofit Fathers Read 365 here.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published March 3, 2023
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In honor of National Reading Month—and every month year-round—Fathers Read 365 is inspiring young children and their parents to read more together.

Research shows that in urban communities, on average, 300 kids share one book, compared to 13 books per child in the suburbs. In an effort to help bridge this gap, two Philadelphia dads, Brent Johnstone and Akeiff Staples are on a mission to give every student they visit 13 free books, with their ultimate goal being to distribute 100,000 books per year.

With the help of various supporters, such as the William Penn Foundation and Vanguard Charities, the nonprofit has flourished in its efforts to distribute books and read to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students.

“We first went on a campaign of reading to 30 daycares in 30 days and started with taking books from our kids’ shelves,” Staples told Channel 6 Action News in Philadelphia. “We started with three books then, and we’re now over 100,000 books that we’ve distributed throughout the city.”

Johnstone and Staples don’t just provide reading materials, though. They also help students connect their stories with their real-life experiences. Crystal Edwards, the principal of William D. Kelley School in North Philadelphia, believes that students leave the presentation with a heightened sense of self-worth.

“Being able to connect their stories with their own lives, even when they are 3, 4, 5, and 6 years old, that literacy connection into their real life is so important,” Edwards told The Philadelphia Citizen.

A reliable marker of success in later life, early literacy can make all the difference. Learn more about when experts say you should start reading to baby and find exciting books from big celebrity names like Dolly Parton here.

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