Dear Barbershop Books Family,
The U.S. Department of Education recently released reading data showing that Black children have suffered disproportionately from lost instructional time due to the pandemic. As we approach the end of 2022, more than 85% of Black boys in fourth grade are not proficient in reading. Through our national network of more than 200 barbershop partners across more than 40 cities and 20 states, Barbershop Books encounters bright spots and inspiring examples of Black boys reading for fun.
These reading moments don’t happen by chance. Communities, families, barbers, and donors all enable our transformative programs, which celebrate, amplify, and affirm the reading interests of Black boys. A 2022 independent evaluation of the Barbershop Books program conducted by NYU Education Professor Susan Neuman, one of America’s leading literacy researchers, provides compelling evidence that young Black boys in our participating barbershops are more likely to be reading than doing any other activity including using a mobile device. We are grateful for the generous support of the William Penn Foundation that made this impact study possible.
This past summer we hired and trained 8 male high school students of color ages 16-18 to lead fun virtual literacy lessons with Black and Brown boys ages 6-8 for our Reading So Lit Summer program. Ninety percent (90%) of parents reported that their sons were more motivated to read and had gained a better understanding of their reading preferences as a result of their participation in the program. The young men who served as youth instructors have inspired our team with stories and feedback that illustrate the transformative impact of their summer work experience with Barbershop Books.
This year, we are adding more than 100 new barbershop partners, providing virtual summer literacy programming, and expanding our E-Library to include more diverse children’s books! Collectively, these efforts will reach more than 10,000 Black boys.
Please contribute and join us in placing Black boys in the driver’s seat of their reading journeys!