All the books feature positive images of African-Americans to inspire children to be proud of themselves and their heritage.
Fuller Cut, a barbershop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, has a new way to encourage kids to read aloud: A $2 dollar discount on their haircut if they read while in the chair. And the best part? They get to keep that discount.
“Parents love it and the kids…well, they like getting the two dollars back,” Ryan Griffin, the barber responsible for bringing the program to the shop, told the Huffington Post. “We get compliments from teachers all the time, too.”
Griffin, a father of three, has been working at Fuller Cut for over 20 years. When he heard about barbershops in Iowa, Texas, and Ohio giving kids discounts for reading aloud while getting a haircut, he knew he had to bring the idea to his barbershop. He started bringing older books he had laying around his house into the shop with him, and from there, the community took notice.
“And that’s just how it started. It wasn’t anything grand. I just wanted to be responsible. I hope people reading this and feel the same way go to their barbershop or beauty salons and tell them about this program as well,” Griffin said.
“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.”
Fuller Cut now receives donations of reading materials from the community, with older kids bringing in their books once they’ve outgrown them. The shop’s selection of books now numbers between 75 and 100, all with a specific theme to encourage positive thinking in the children among this largely African-American clientele.
“All our books have positive images of African-Americans — whether it’s astronauts, athletes or writers,” Griffin said.
Griffin also tracks the reading progress of the kids who come in. Anybody who doesn’t finish a book in one sitting gets to start where they left off when they come in again. This way, the kids with the most to lose can tell their reading skills are getting better and better in a positive environment.
“If we can get kids to come back to the Fuller Cut as adults in college and they tell us, ‘Because you guys had us read here, it made me want to be a writer or journalist,’” Griffin said, “that’s really the end goal.”
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