KUTZTOWN, PA – When you’re small, getting your hair cut seems terrifying. Many kids have trouble sitting still, and face the clippers or scissors with trepidation. It’s a problem that’s usually solved by distracting the youngsters long enough for the ordeal to be over before they even notice it’s begun.
There’s another problem, too. Among young African American adults, reading proficiency is seen as a real problem. Too few children are interested in books, or have anyone around who has the time to listen to them read. One barbershop is tackling both problems in one fell swoop. They’re offering a box of fun books, so kids can read aloud while they’re getting their hair cut.
“Soon as we got the books, we just needed the kids, and once the kids came, it just worked out perfectly,” said barber Jerry Jones.
This is part of a growing trend in barbershops around the United States – from Pennsylvania to New York. This particular shop is hoping that they’ll build each child’s confidence in their own reading skills – one haircut at a time.
“Just the courage for them to [read aloud], I don’t think I would have ever did it as a kid, no matter how much money was on the line,” said shop owner John Escueta.
They’re hoping that each child eventually become comfortable reading just about anything.
“You may not have the confidence today, but tomorrow, you have the confidence to do it and someone looking up to him can say, ‘Oh, he can do it, I can do it.'”
This is just one small way we can help tackle the issue of childhood illiteracy in America. Only about one-third of American 4th graders are actually literate, and over 60% of low-income families in the US can’t afford to have books available in their homes.
Watch a video below about another barbershop non-profit who has the same idea, and is making an awesome difference in the literacy gap in New York: