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Create Your Own Declaration of Independence

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 […]

The Charleston Shooting: Why White Kids Need Diverse Children’s Books

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 08:  Second graders watch as President Obama delivers a back-to-school address to school children on September 8, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. Administrators at the Park Hill public school gave parents the option of pulling their children from class or allowing them to watch the live Presidential broadcast. Only a few parents chose to keep their kids out of class. Nationwide, some conservatives over the past week had worried that Obama would use the speech to promote his political agenda. In the speech the President urged children to work hard and stay in school.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The devaluation of black lives doesn’t happen overnight nor is the process of dehumanizing those associated with blackness limited to a single ethnic group. All over the world we find big black men standing outside bars, nightclubs and department stores, while their lighter skinned relatives exercise a different, and arguably, a more benign type of […]

Featured on WNBC NY 4

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The buzz is growing about Barbershop Books. Our simple idea of creating child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops has captured the attention and imaginations of people from around the United States – including local news stations here in NYC. Use the following link to view WNBC NY 4’s video about Barbershop Books:  http://ow.ly/PFqiJ

Support Transformation

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Hi Literacy Advocate, There has been a wave of national interest and support for Barbershop Books. Today, you have an opportunity to help bring “Barbershop Books” to barbershop all across New York City and select communities across the United States. You can donate here. There are two ways to help: 1. Contribute – even small contributions […]

How Identity Issues Create Reading Struggles

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According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 85% of school-age black males in the United States are not proficient in reading. Some people believe black boys have a reading problem or that black boys’ consistently low reading performance demonstrates a lack capacity or ability. I disagree. Low literacy levels among Black boys are more aptly a reflection […]

2015 Black Male Achievement Fellowship

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Reading Holiday Project, Inc (RHP) has been selected as a national semi-finalist for Echoing Green’s 2015 Black Male Achievement Fellowship. The Black Male Achievement (BMA) Fellowship provides funding to social entrepreneurs who are starting up new and innovative organizations to improve the life outcomes of Black men and boys in the United States. Winners receive: A stipend of […]

UPenn Public Policy Competition Finalist

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On March 21st and 22nd, four NYU Wagner School of Public Service students (Alvin Irby, Tyeshia Smith, James Leyba, and Sherese Ward) presented Barbershop Books to a distinguished panel of judges at the National Public Policy Challenge, hosted by the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. The NYU’s Barbershop Books team was selected as […]

Stop Testing Kids So Much and Start Preparing Teachers

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Lots of politicians seem to be confused about how best to evaluate teachers. I have some advice for these politicians. Stop it! Stop pouring millions and billions of dollars into tests that distract from and and destroy children’s desire to learn and teachers’ passion for teaching. Instead, create rigorous and selective 4-year teacher preparation programs in each […]

When Schools Were For Learning

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Identity is the major obstacle to academic success among many struggling students today. Having common core standards across states may help outline teaching guidelines and lead to universal learning benchmarks, but someone still has to teach and children still need to learn in order for the standards to be met. There was a time when […]

I don’t want your African American children’s book list!

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Most publishers have African American, Latino, girl, or boy children’s book lists. Although useful, these cultural and gender-themed book lists are often inadequate, restrictive, and in many ways stereotypical. They are especially problematic for young black boys, many of whom are reluctant readers. Award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Christopher Myers wrote an opinion piece in […]