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The nation's most innovative solution for inspiring young black boys to read

ABOUT BARBERSHOP BOOKS

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WHAT IS BARBERSHOP BOOKS?

Barbershop Books, Inc.  is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit literacy organization based in New York City. We believe that  when communities provide kids with early, positive, and culturally meaningful reading experiences, they identify as readers and read for fun. Our programs distribute fun, kid-approved books to barbershops and community-based organizations across America. Since the start of the pandemic, we have developed a variety of innovative digital programs such as our free e-library and a fun supplemental literacy program designed to help teachers create more personalized reading experiences for students.

OUR MISSION

Inspire Black boys and other vulnerable children to read for fun through child-centered, culturally responsive, and community-based programming and content. 

THE LITERACY CHALLENGE

According to the United States Department of Education, more than 85% of America’s Black male 4th grade students are not proficient in reading.

In an increasingly global and knowledge-based economy, poor reading skills among young Black boys today will produce Black men who are unprepared to compete in the workforce of tomorrow. Four key factors contribute to low reading proficiency among Black boys: (1) limited access to culturally responsive reading material; (2) lack of Black men in boys’ early reading experiences; (3) few culturally competent educators; and (4) educational systems that are unresponsive to individual learning needs of Black boys.

MEET OUR FOUNDER

Alvin Irby, MS, MPA

Alvin Irby is a passionate educator committed to innovative curriculum, child-centered education, and transformative teaching and leadership. Irby has taught kindergarten and first grade in NYC and served as Education Director at the Boys' Club of New York. He holds a Masters in childhood education from the Bank Street Graduate School of Education, a Masters of Public Administration from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, and a Bachelor's from Grinnell College. As a nationally recognized speaker and award-winning social entrepreneur, Irby has established himself as a cultural competency specialist and a thought leader in the field of early childhood education.

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