ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** David Bruton Jr. is in a heated competition with his son and he's losing.
The Broncos' safety challenged his 9-year-old son to read more books than him this year, but Bruton's falling behind. Sure, his books are much longer and the words are more difficult, but the end game is that his son becomes a better reader and one who values the learning in reading books.
Bruton's passion for reading turned into a charity foundation on Wednesday as he announced his Bruton's Books program, which aims to improve reading proficiency for children from kindergarten through third grade by partnering with Colorado Reading Corps and School Partners to help schools in lower income areas in Denver offer reading supplies as well as tutoring for students.
"It's extremely important and actually very advantageous for a kid to be able to read at such a young age," Bruton said. "There's a direct correlation with early childhood reading proficiency and it's directly tied in with high school graduation. I've been privileged and fortunate enough to be teamed up with Mile High United Way and their reading course program to help eliminate child illiteracy. It's a program that 82 percent of the kids who go through that program are reading at their grade level, so I feel like every kid should have that advantage and to succeed, you need some type of advantage."
Bruton's experience with helping schools doesn't start here. In fact during the lockout in 2011, he was a substitute teacher for a short while, helping teach "everything from basic geography in first grade to calculus for senior." He also learned about some tenets of educational policy during his time at Notre Dame studying political science when the 'No Child Left Behind' initiative was a topic of discussion in his classes.
"What I think it is, is my passion group from the experience that I learned and had as a substitute teacher and the fact that I also have a 9-year-old son and I know the importance of reading," he said. "I tried to read with him when he was younger, and me and him compete on how many books we can read throughout a year."
The statistics about reading proficiency and high school graduation rates surprised Bruton, and he wanted to offer help.
"It's a huge problem, especially out here in Colorado with the graduate rate being so low and also the reading proficiency for kids K through third grade being so low," he added. "It's pretty sad that it's like that but you also got to understand there's those impoverished families we can reach out to and help give books to eliminate the 'brain drain' throughout the summer or help bring books to a school so they can have something to read during down time or whatever."
"It's just something that's very dear to me and something that I've thoroughly enjoyed and gotten back into," he said. "I just feel like you can learn so much from books and you can carry that on throughout life."