Student spends summer working to improve literacy

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A local high school student is spending his summer immersed in books, but not for his own enjoyment. (WLS)

A local high school student is spending his summer immersed in books, but not for his own enjoyment. He's working in Lincoln Square to improve literacy in some inner-city schools.

These toddlers are a captive audience as Pastor Michael Neal reads a story about dads.

He is showcasing his ability to grip those with even the tiniest attention spans at the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. It's all to help bring in donations for a non-profit organization he leads called "Real Men Read." Men volunteer to read stories and interact with students in primary grades at ten Chicago Public Schools in their South Side neighborhood.

"Especially in our Bronzeville community, the male teacher you're not going to find that many, especially in the primary grades," Pastor Neal said. "So we're trying to make that presence of men being a positive role models and also helping to read."

The book drive is an initiative of the Bear Hugs Children's Fund, a group that aims to help children around the world who need shelter, medical assistance, independence, love and education.

"I mainly work with the education aspect," said Aaron Kamel, Bear Hugs Children's Fund. "For me education is books and grades and one thing that I can help many people with is books."

Kamel is a 17-year-old student at Walter Payton High School who leads the annual book drive. He says as a child it was instilled in him to give back.

"It started at a very young age where we had a box of change, and at the end of the month we would donate that change to an organization of my choice. And this really instilled in me giving back to the community," Kamel said.

For more information:

Former Florence B. Price School
4351 S. Drexel Blvd
Chicago, IL 60653
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