Band-Aids on Broken Bones: Why Sensitivity Readers Aren’t the Answer


April 19, 2017     @alvinirby I totally understand why children’s book publishers hire sensitivity readers. These cultural consultants review children’s books before they are published and offer their opinion about whether other people who share their same cultural or ethnic background might be offended by something written or depicted in the book. I am by […]

Different Method of Learning (and Reading!)


By Felicity LuHill April 17, 2017     When encouraging kids to read, it’s important to note their specific learning styles. Every child has his own way of learning and trying to make him learn through a different method can prove to be frustrating and counterproductive. When I tutored a fourth grader who was having […]

Books for African American Boys: They are not what pops into your head.

April 6, 2017 by @alvinirby Scholastic surveyed about 3,000 parents and children from different cultural backgrounds to learn about families’ reading preferences and book access. The results revealed that parents and children are not always on the same page when it comes to what kids want in a book. I travel around the country speaking […]

8 Diverse Children’s Books to Read this Spring


By Felicity LuHill April 3, 2017   “Oh Yes! Oh Yes! It’s Springtime!” by Susan Ring, Jeff Borkin, and Andy Mastrocinque: Join the Little Einsteins as they travel through time and space to help their friend baby tulip bloom! “Who Likes Rain?” by Wong Herbert Yee: It’s April showers, which means grabbing rain gear and jumping into puddles. […]

3 Things Kids Teach Us About Race


By Felicity LuHill March 28, 2017   I was recently introduced to a study CNN did on children’s perception of race, “A Look at Race Relations Through a Child’s Eyes:” Though it’s important to note that this study was done in 2012, I believe the conclusions of this study are still pertinent to today. On […]

Spring Cleaning with Reading!


By Felicity LuHill March 21, 2017   It’s officially spring, and what does that mean? Melting snow, longer days, and, that’s right, spring cleaning! When the skies are brighter and the weather starts to get warmer, I always feel rejuvenated. There’s a life-giving quality to this time of year, which is why productivity kicks into […]

8 Reasons Why You Should Read Aloud


By Felicity LuHill March 13, 2017   For Read Aloud Month, I looked into what reading to a child for 15 minutes a day can really do. People often underestimate the importance of reading to a young child that has little to no language skills. Here’s the truth about how important it is: Children often […]

On Writing Cross-Culturally with Andrea Pinkney


By Felicity LuHill March 6, 2017   I’ve just finished two Saturday classes titled “Writing Cross-Culturally: Diversity in Children’s and Teen Literature,” with Andrea Pinkney, editor at Scholastic, esteemed author and Coretta Scott King Award Winner for “Hand in Hand: Two Black Men Who Changed America.” For our class, Andrea listed the “ingredients” of writing […]

Encouraging Kids to Read & Write (When They Prefer Other Subjects)

19341565 - young boy thinking

By Felicity LuHill February 28, 2017   As a tutor, I’m often called upon to help students read and write when they prefer other subjects over Literature. Generally, these students hate reading and writing. So I ask them, “What subjects do you prefer?” Science, Math, and History are big ones. In these cases, I find […]

At 4-years-old, Writing Should Be Exploration – Not Writing Drills


February 24, 2017 @AlvinIrby While heading to a concert in Brooklyn, NY, I had a great conversation with my Uber driver. I mentioned to him that I used to teach kindergarten and now run Barbershop Books. Then he shared with me his struggles trying to teach his four-year-old daughter to write. “What are you trying […]

Create Your Own Declaration of Independence


By Felicity LuHill February 20, 2017   In honor of President’s Day, create your very own Declaration of Independence! With your early reader, either at home or in the classroom.   What you need: 3 Black Tea Bags Plain White Paper or Paper with the Declaration of Independence text*** Black Pen or Marker (a calligraphy […]

5 Reading Tips For Parents From Someone Who Hated Reading As A Child


February 15, 2017 @AlvinIrby  I was not the most academically astute child. During my first few years of school, I struggled in reading and to say my behavior was challenging would be a huge understatement. My mother’s solution for my reading woes was to replace some of my time playing outside on weekends or during […]

Windows and Mirrors: Why We Need Diverse Children’s Books

Young Girl Playing By Herself --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

By Felicity LuHill February 13, 2017   I’ve been tutoring for a long time, and I’ve come across a lot of different educational texts for young people. Once, while I was tutoring out in California, I remember a white eighth grade boy making fun of people’s names used in the word problems of his math homework. […]

4 Things Obama Taught Us About The Power of Reading


February 8, 2917 by Alvin Irby 1. Books are a great sources of ideas. They enable readers to explore the thinking of others. It is especially helpful to learn how other people who have faced similar challenges. In an interview with the New York Times Obama said, “The writings of Lincoln, the Rev. Martin Luther […]

Is “Sounding it Out” Helpful?


By Felicity LuHill February 6, 2017   For an early reader, it can be hard to pronounce words correctly. For someone who is helping an early reader read out loud, it can be tempting to tell the reader to stop for a moment and try “sounding the word out” when an early reader gets stuck […]

Suspension Rates Impact Reading for Black Boys


By Corinne Bridgewater February 1, 2017   I read an article the other day that New York City is updating their discipline code to almost rid suspensions in K-2 classrooms. As an upper grade teacher, I worked at a school with a tremendous suspension rate, and saw how it hindered a lot of my students […]

A Spring Festival Activity for Your Early Reader


By Felicity LuHill January 30, 2017   According to Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, 2017 is the year of the Rooster! But what does that mean exactly? Find out with this little activity we whipped up for you and your early reader:   First thing’s first, find out what his and your Chinese Zodiac animal is (or […]

How to Gain a Healthy Dose of Empathy


By Corinne Bridgewater January 25, 2017   Empathy or Compassion. Do I picture myself in your shoes, or do I understand that we wear different shoe sizes? With the education world growing mindfulness toward equity it’s important to take a step back and think – just how am I using my bias and awareness to […]

Reading in the Age of Technology


By Felicity LuHill January 23, 2017   This past week, I had experienced a blackout. Today, this perhaps seems more dire than it used to because along with no light, heat or TV, a blackout also means no internet! While the blackout was happening, my phone was on its last leg, so even using data was out of […]

Winning Over Boredom


By Corinne Bridgewater January 18, 2017   “I’m bored.” – every kid in America. Although as adults we often shrug it off, it is something to consider in our own lives. In powerpoint presentation or training we usually stop listening five minutes in and grab our ipad to take “notes.” Secretly, we are spending hours […]

20 Things You Didn’t Know About Martin Luther King


By Felicity LuHill January 16, 2017   Most people know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great civil rights activist who practiced nonviolence in his protests. But here are a few things you may not have known about the man (and his legacy!) Martin Luther King, Jr. and his father, Martin Luther King, Sr. […]

Closing the Achievement Gap through Project-Based Learning


By Corinne Bridgewater January 11, 2017   Due to zoning, New York City is experiencing one of the highest segregated divide in schools since pre-integration. Many view this as an issue because schools with the highest concentration of African American and Latinos generally have the most outdated resources, untrained/inexperienced teachers, and as a esult low […]

Identifying as a Reader BEFORE Learning to Read


By Felicity LuHill January 9, 2017   You may not consider a book the best toy for a kid who doesn’t yet know how to read, but you would be surprised how much being around books, even before a child learns to read, can make an impact. As a writer, pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing […]

We Should Replace Flash Cards With Field Trips


By Alvin Irby      January 6, 2017 Over the holidays, I had a wonderful conversation with a friend who currently teaches kindergarten at a public school in the largest urban school district in Arkansas. She mentioned that teachers and administrators at her school often complain about students’ poor vocabularies. As we spoke, one question […]

How to Follow the “Education Trends” of 2017


By Corinne Bridgewater January 4, 2017   The start of a new year means looking forward, and seeing what’s new in fashion, technology, and education! That’s right, like everything else, education is not immune to trends. In fact, they emerge every year, and as a parent it’s important to get the buzz. Here are some tips on […]

Reasonable Reading Resolutions

A bedtime story --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

By Felicity LuHill January 2, 2017   New years is a time for a fresh start, a clean slate. Which is why every time new years comes along most of us come up with a list of things we’d like to improve upon ourselves, in areas like health, relationships, or career. If you’re like me, […]

How Journal Writing Transformed My Kindergarten Classroom


by Alvin Irby December 22, 2016 What would happen if the children in our lives were allowed to write freely? I don’t know but I’m confident that the results will exceed many adults’ wildest expectations and move beyond our limited imaginations. When I taught kindergarten, I began each day with 10-15 minutes of journal writing. Each […]

The Right Questions to Ask Your Early Reader

By Corinne Bridgewater December 21, 2016   Test time! Can you answer this question for each passage: What is the main idea?   Mr Bucket was the only person in the family with a job. He worked in a toothpaste factory, where he sat all day long at a bench and screwed the little caps […]

10 Diverse Children’s Books To Read This Christmas


By Felicity LuHill December 19, 2016 The Most Precious Gift: A Nativity Story, by Marty Crisp N is for Navidad, by Susan Middleton Elya and Merry Banks When Christmas Feels Like Home, by Gretchen Griffith Who Built the Stable? by Ashley Bryan The Christmas Truck, by J.B. Blankenshop Happy Christmas Gemma, by Sarah Hayes King Island Christmas, by Jean Rogers […]

Why I Wrote A Picture Book About Boogers


December 16, 2016 by Alvin Irby As a professional comedian, former elementary school teacher, and the leader of an early literacy organization, I have seen first-hand the transformative effects of using humor to help children learn.  My debut children’s book, Gross Greg, follows a young boy who loves eating his boogers despite the protest of everyone […]

#BlackBoyJoy and Finding the Reader’s Flow


By Corinne Bridgewater December 14, 2016 Chance the Rapper’s infectious demeanor inspired a viral sensation on Twitter. The hashtag #blackboyjoy started trending and filled the internet with images of black boys smiling and having fun. The social move made me think of #blackboyjoy in our classrooms – just how important is joy in learning? It’s […]

We Found a Hat: A Challenging Story of Friendship


By Felicity LuHill December 12, 2016   We Found a Hat was named one of the best children’s books of the year by Time Magazine, The New York Times, and The Guardian. So we decided to see what all the fuss was about! We Found a Hat is the third and final book of Jon […]

Schools Should Not Silence Silliness


By Alvin Irby              December 9, 2016 I was an assistant teacher in a 9/10’s (4th grade) class at the Bank Street School for Children, a world-renowned independent school on the upper west side in Manhattan. As my eyes moved from one corner of the class to the other it dawned […]

3 Tips for Encouraging your K-2 Reader


By Corinne Bridgewater December 7, 2016   During Barbershop Books current season of #GivingTuesday, I think back on my favorite childhood book, Norma Jean Jumping Bean. Too young to read the pages myself, my sister would read to me- making faces when a Kangaroo, Norma, is disappointed that her excitement for jumping becomes too much for her […]

Using What Boys Like To Help Them Identify As Readers


By Felicity LuHill December 5, 2016 Reading doesn’t have to be your child’s #1 interest in order for him to identify as a reader. More than likely he will be interested in other areas. Perhaps he even views the act of reading as a kind of chore. But whether he’s interested in sports, animals, art, or […]

What is Giving Tuesday?


By Felicity LuHill November 29, 2016   During the holidays, it’s easy to get bogged down by stress: the end-of-the-year deadlines are speedily approaching, relatives are popping into your life (some of whom you may not like), memories of passed loved ones stir, even the weather invokes a gloomy outlook. Closing a year means closing a […]

6 Diverse Children’s Books to Read This Thanksgiving


By Barbershop Books November 21, 2016 Encounter by Jane Yolen How Many Days to America? A Thanksgiving Story by Eve Buntling Gracias The Thanksgiving Turkey by Joy Cowley Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules Squanto’s Journey by Joseph Bruchac Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving by Kimberly & James Dean

What We Are Really Telling Black Boys about Reading


by Alvin Irby November 16, 2016 How would you feel if ever time you grabbed a book someone slapped it out your hand?  Unfortunately, many boys find themselves in classrooms, schools, and homes that ignore or are hostile to their reading interests. Research shows that boys’ reading preferences often do not align with the interests of their […]

5 Kids Books to Read for the Super Moon Happening Tonight

Super Moon

by Alvin Irby November 14, 2016 The last time the moon was this close to the earth it was 1948. Today, the sun is going to be HUGE! I don’t really believe in werewolves, but if there are any of them out there, tonight is definitely their night. I have no idea what your family […]

Use This Picture Book to Talk to Children about Trump


by Alvin Irby @alvinirby  November 9, 2016 For all the parents who celebrate Donald Trump’s presidential victory this morning, there are millions of other parents who sit silently at their breakfast tables unable to find words to describe what just happened or what lies ahead. How does a parent explain to a young child that America […]

Why the Best Children’s Books are Mirrors


As Founder and Chief Reading Inspirer at Barbershop Books, I spend each day thinking about how best to help young black boys identify as readers. I have concluded that many children’s early reading experiences are almost exclusively skills-based. This is especially true for children attending under-resourced schools, where students’ perceived deficits, instead of their assets, […]

Bring Change


Special “Bring Change” Event at TD Bank Located on the corner of E 117th St and 3rd Ave Friday, July 22, 2016 (10AM-4PM) Fun read aloud for kids w/ Founder Alvin Irby (10AM, 1PM, 2PM, 3PM) FREE Giveaways with every donation

Yankees Hope Week


New York Post – By Steve Serby June 9, 2016 | 2:15am One day, perhaps barbershops in Harlem can be remembered as miniature Houses That Ruth Built, where young children begin learning how to hit real-life home runs by reading books there, so it never gets late early for them. “Reading is freedom,” Alvin Irby […]

CGI Commitment


2016 CGI America Commitment Barbershop Books has committed to create child-friendly reading spaces in 110 barbershops across 11 major U.S. cities by September 2017: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Columbia (SC), Columbus (OH), Detroit, Los Angeles, Newark, New York City, Washington DC,

#BrothasRead Campaign


June 19, 2016 – July 19, 2016 Snap a reading selfie today! Use #BrothasRead This campaign was created to help change the narrative about black males and reading GOAL: Generate 10,000 photos of Black men and boys reading   Each Reading Selfie = $1 Donation The Good People Fund will donate $1 for each unique reading selfie to Barbershop Books, up […]

Sign Up For BB Kids


BB Kids encourages families with children ages 4-10 to share fun  reading pictures. Up to three NBA tickets will be provided to families that share the most reading pictures on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) using the tags #BBKids and @BarbershopBooks. Only children and adults who are reading in shared photos will be eligible to receive the free NBA tickets. There are […]

7 Things You Should Know about Barbershop Books


1. Barbershop Books is education reform. Education reform has become synonymous with charter schools. We believe that education reform is not a school, a curriculum, or a particular program, but rather education reform means changing the educational experiences of children for the better. Designing educational environments and creating educational experiences that transform young reluctant readers into children […]

New Yorker of the Week


NY1 News selects Barbershop Books founder Alvin Irby as the New Yorker of the Week. Watch the NY1 News Broadcast by clicking the below photo or read the following transcript. From NY1 News:  NYer of the Week: Alvin Irby Encourages Students to Keep Their Nose in a Book, One Haircut at a Time The latest New Yorker […]

Mediocre Teacher Prep Sentences Black Boys to Lives of Servitude


Do you think it’s a coincidence that more than 85% of black male 4th graders in the United States do not read proficiently in 2015? If a vaccine or medical procedure didn’t work 85% of the time, it would be swiftly rejected. A host of FDA testing protocols and AMA recommendations help prevent harmful drugs […]