“The barbershop is a place you come to unwind and build self-esteem. You got brothers coming in with high self-esteem and we maintain that. Or you got brothers coming in with low self-esteem and we hook them up with their appearance and give them pep talks and stuff like that, and make it a place for them to come back and express themselves. We help to raise each other right and move forward.” – Edgar,
The barbershop has, and always will be, a treasured place in the Black community – especially for young Black men. The shop is where many young boys learn how to express themselves; learn more about their culture; learn how to thrive in today’s society; learn more about who they are and where they come from. The list is endless!
Barbershop Books leverage the cultural significance of barbershops in Black communities to increase boys’ access to culturally relevant, age appropriate, and gender responsive children’s books and to increase out-of-school time reading among young Black boys.
According to the United States Department of Education, more than 85% of America’s Black male 4th grade students are not proficient in reading. Four key factors contribute to low reading proficiency among Black boys: (1) limited access to engaging reading material; (2) lack of Black men in black boys’ early reading experiences; (3) few culturally competent educators; and (4) educational systems that are unresponsive to Black boys’ individual learning needs.
Barbershop Books is changing the narrative and here’s how the program works:
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