Barbershop Books “is a community-based program that creates child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops across America.”
Barbershop Books is the first program from the Reading Holiday Project, a nonprofit literacy organization that aims to transform the reading experience for young boys. Barbershop Books pairs the natural and significant culture of a barbershop in black communities with culturally relevant and age appropriate literature to increase out-of-school reading time among young black boys.
According to the statistics from the Department of Education found by Barbershop Books, “more than 85% of America’s black male 4th grade students are not proficient in reading.” Barbershop Books heeds this challenge by providing reading material for young black boys outside of the classroom.
During its 2nd annual Why Reading Matters conference on June 15, the National Book Foundation awarded its annual $10,000 Innovations in Reading Prize to Alvin Irby, the founder of Barbershop Books. Irby, during a breakout session at the conference, “offered a combination of formal educational pedagogy and personal anecdotes in a very funny presentation that encourages teachers and parents to think about how they present books to kids.”