Who doesn’t like getting haircuts? If done right, they change your appearance. But this barbershop in Michigan is a little different. The Fuller Cut barbershop in Ypsilanti, Michigan gives $2 discounts to kids who read books aloud to their barbers while they’re getting their hair done.
“Parents love it and the kids … well, they like getting the two dollars back,” Ryan Griffin, the barber at the Fuller Cut who brought the discount program to the shop. In an interview with The Huffington Post, he said, “We get compliments from teachers all the time, too.”
What’s special about this program is that the kids don’t just read any books. As the barbershop caters to diverse communities, the literary selection has a very specific theme.
“All our books have positive images of African-Americans — whether it’s astronauts, athletes, or writers,” Griffin said.
It began when Griffin began bringing in old books he had lying around the house and telling parents about the deal.
“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 that his community has embraced the idea. The shop has gotten new customers specifically because they’ve heard about the reading program and older kids like to bring in their old books for the shop use.
But that’s not even the best part.
“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.”
But at this barbershop, it’s not enough to read the book out loud. Kids get quizzed by their barber to make sure they understand what they read.
“Any help these kids can get with reading and … comprehension is a big thing. 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.’ “
Griffin also tracks the progress of the kids who participate in the program. For instance, if a kid doesn’t finish a particular book in one session, the next time they come in, he has them pick up the book where they left off. He says by having them read the same book, it’s easy to see when a kid’s reading comprehension is improving.
“Some kids go to class and they’re afraid to read out loud, but this really builds their confidence,” he said.
And although Griffin knows that he and the shop are making a positive impact on kids’ lives now, it’s the future that he’s really looking forward to.
What are your thoughts?