A US barber shop has been quietly running an amazing literacy-promoting program and it’s making a difference to lots of great kids’ lives. Michigan-based, The Fuller Cut have hatched the Read to a Barber program, offering kids a $2 per haircut discount if they read a book aloud while they get their hair tidied up.
A growing movement
Inspired by Harlem’s Levels Barbershop Books and Dubuque barber, Courtney Holmes’ ground-breaking barber shop reading initiative, The Fuller Cut’s Ryan Griffin hopes to make a real difference in his community, where he’s been cutting hair for more than 20 years.
“It’s just being responsible. We want to be more than just a place where people can come get a haircut,” Ryan told NPR.
“When little kids that don’t really know how to read or what’s going on, see an older kid in the chair with a book and then grab a book too, that’s what’s important. Because when a kid thinks it’s cool to read, that’s a gift.” Ryan told The Huffington Post.
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I would like to say thank you to Taye Diggs for writing this great book called "Chocolate Me." Kids love to pick this book and READ it to a barber. Thank you again. #barbershop #thefullercut #promoteliteracy #tayediggs #chocolateme #ypsilanti #michigan #kidsread #readtoyourbabrber program
Laying important groundwork
Ryan’s a father of three himself and the idea of keeping kids focused academically and impacting their lives in long-lasting ways keeps him snipping and listening.
“We get complimented by teachers that will say it does so much for these kids throughout the summer or throughout the school year,” Ryan says.
“You know, maybe someday some kid will grow up and be a journalist, be a writer, and he’ll say. ‘You know what? When I was young, my barber used to make me read.’ So whatever we can do to help shape these kids,” the rad dad explains.
It goes a little something like this
So how does The Fuller Cut’s ‘Read to the Barber’ program work? First up, kids choose a book while they’re in the waiting room. When it’s their turn to get a hair cut, they jump into the chair and read out loud to their barber. They chat about the book as they go, the barber helping with tricky words. Once the cut and book are finished, the small (and now very stylish and well-read) customer can either have a $2 discount off their cut OR they can pocket $2 themselves. Simple!
Ryan says around 100 kids participate in the ‘Read to the Barber’ program, most of them African-American children.
After ‘Read to the Barber’ was featured on American radio network NPR, The Fuller Cut was inundated with requests to donate books or funds to help grow the initiative. They say they’re particularly keen to offer books that reflect the shop’s small clientele.
“Because our majority customers are African American, we prefer books within this cultural dynamic. We do not do this to be separate or be inconsiderate to any and all other cultures and skin colors; it is simply because the faces and stories in the books look like them, which inspires them to be proud of their individual amazingness,” The Fuller Cut said in a statement on their Facebook page.
We love this idea and hope it will surface in Australian barber shops very soon. (Maybe it already has? Let us know if you know something!)