The nation's most innovative solution for inspiring young black boys to read
Read book reviews, tips for parents, and our latest thoughts about early literacy.

Grandparents Mean The World To Us

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This week is National Grandparents Day! When we think of how much our grandparents mean to us, this particular quote comes to mind: “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.”  —Alex Haley There is a special bond between grandparents and grandchildren that […]

Greatest Literary Voice of our Time

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The literary world recently lost one of the greatest. “Toni Morrison was a gift to the world. Her writing will forever stand as an exemplar of excellence, excavating the human existence and the complexities of American life,” says Barbershop Books Founder, Alvin Irby. Author, book editor, and professor Toni Morrison died at the age of […]

New Shops, New Opportunities

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Outdoor activities are innate to summer, but please remember to take time to read indoors and outside. Lead by example. Show your children how to enjoy reading outside of the classroom. Sign them up for a summer reading challenge and frequent a public library. Barbershop Books in the Media D.L. Hughley Radio on TVOne Darryl Lynn “D.L.” […]

Use It or Lose It

Hello friends, It’s summer time, school is over and it’s equally if not more important for you, your students and your own children to keep on reading! Let’s lead by example. Here are some relevant articles about is topic, and more, I discovered in the past month that I want to share with you: How To Encourage Your Kids To […]

Say No to Summer Slide!

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Summer is here and we are helping you keep your young reader inspired and FAR away from the summer slide. With that being said, have you checked out The King of Kindergarten? This amazing children’s books is a story about a young Black boy embarking on a big milestone — kindergarten! Starting kindergarten is a […]

The Fight for Literacy

With most school districts coming to a close in May, it is critical for students to retain knowledge and skills learned in the school year, during the summer months. Throughout May, we had the pleasure of welcoming more than 20 new barbershops to the program thanks to supporters, just like you. The summer heat is on; let’s keep the […]

How to Keep Kids of All Ages Reading During the Summer

Hello friends, Thank you for subscribing to The Irby Review and sharing your thoughts with me every month! Here are some thought-provoking articles I discovered in the past month that I want to share with you: Nearly One-In-Five Americans Now Listen to Audio books Do you prefer to hold and read a print book? Do you feel you are retaining […]

The Cultural Significance of Barbershops in Black Communities


“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 […]

7 Summer Reads for Children of Color

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School’s out for summer, but that doesn’t mean learning ceases. This is one of the most opportune seasons to engage your young reader and increase out-of-school reading time. Here’s a list of great children’s books to get the summer rolling in style: Daddy Calls Me Man, Writer, Angela Johnson, Illustrator, Rhonda Mitchell, Recommended for ages […]

Spring Forward

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In nature, April represents a month of transition and growth, which perfectly captures all the amazing Barbershop Books news from last month. We had the distinct honor and pleasure of welcoming new barbershops to the program thanks to supporters, just like you. With that being said, here’s what we were up to in April: Power […]

Kids don’t come with instructions…


“There is no app to replace your lap: Read to your child.” Hello, Thank you for subscribing to The Irby Review. The Irby Review is a monthly newsletter from Alvin Irby, founder of Barbershop Books. For insights on current events in education, read Irby’s commentary on these interesting articles. Reading to Your Toddler? Print Books Are Better Than […]


Thank you!

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week! Have you thanked a teacher this week? A teacher’s impact extends far beyond their classroom and has the ability to impact generations. Their countless hours grading papers, restless nights thinking about their students, and long days teaching lessons is what lays the foundation for one’s future success. To say we are […]

Reading Role Models

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Role Model: a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.   What example are you setting for a child? So often, we forget that our everyday actions have the potential to shape a child’s life. Whether you are a teacher, parent, aunt, brother, and etc. […]

Impacts of Implicit Bias

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Hello there Explore the power of human connection, the negative impacts of implicit bias on Black entrepreneurs, and the challenges of improving reading at the state level. The Irby Review is a monthly newsletter from Barbershop Books Founder Alvin Irby. For insights on current events in education, read Irby’s commentary on these interesting articles. Black Boys […]

World Book Day


When you open a book, you open a new world of possibilities and joy that can shared with others. World Book Day is one of our favorite holidays because it celebrates the power of books in people both young and old! Here’s why we love books. Books bring forth knowledge Books are filled with information […]

Jazz music in all its glory


Among many other important celebrations, April is also the month that we all celebrate all the significant contributions that jazz music has made to society! To honor Jazz Appreciation Month, here’s a list of children’s books we recommend you try: 1. Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum. Robert A. Parker. (Schwartz & Wade) This beautiful […]

How do you library?


Libraries = Strong Communiites. This year’s National Library Week theme celebrates the power of academic, public, and school libraries. Libraries mean many things to so many people, especially young readers. Libraries have the power to strengthen communities and spread a love of reading among people of all ages – and as Barbershop Books proves everyday […]

Hold Fast To Dreams

National Poetry Month

In honor of National Poetry Month, we will be sharing information about our favorite poets! This week, we celebrate the life and legacy of Langston Hughes. Langston Hughes was the central figure of the Harlem Renaissance, and his work has inspired generations of Black poets. Hughes also wrote novels, short stories, essays, and plays. He sought to […]

Here’s What You Missed Last Month


February was a busy month for Barbershop Books filled with the launch of Beautyshop Books, new barbershops, and so much more! Take a look: Barbershop Books in the Media NBC New York- Positively Black: Hey New Yorkers! Did you catch Barbershop Books on NBC New York’s Positively Black segment with Tracie Strahan? Watch it now The Social […]

Relationship Building

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Here are some of the most interesting articles I read this past month. Please feel free to share these great reads with your friends, colleagues, and family. Let Children Get Bored Again I think that children should have unscheduled time in their day but I also think access to technology should be restricted. A child with […]

4 Books to Celebrate Women’s History Month


In honor of Women’s History Month, here are four great children’s books that celebrate the power and ingenuity of women: “Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World”  by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, Emily Winfield Martin, Shadra Strickland, Melissa Sweet, LeUyen Pham, Oge Mora, Julie Morstad, Lisa Brown, Selina Alko, […]

Black History Month Celebration


As you are celebrating Black History Month with your children, we have put together a list of good reads that you all can enjoy together! Here are a few suggestions: Bright Eyes, Brown Skin By: Cheryl Hudson, Bernette Ford, George Cephas Ford Illustrated by: George Cephas Ford “Four African American children interact with one another […]

Barbershop Books Monthly News

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I hope you found a warm place to cuddle up with a good book during the polar vortex. Keep the winter blues away by being active, using bright lights inside, and of course curling up with a book. Thank you for helping us to inspire Black boys to read. Barbershop Books in the Media WOSU […]



Love is in the air and we are not just talking about Valentine’s Day. It is highly important to instill a love of reading early on in your child’s life. With that being said, here is an acronym that will help:  L – Listen to your child’s interests. Children know their likes and dislikes. Some […]

“I Love My Skin!”


Your effort and enthusiasm directly influence students’ commitment to learning. We hope you find January’s articles helpful and inspiring in your fields, and in your roles as moms, dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Thank you for subscribing to The Irby Review. Here are some of the most interesting articles I read this past month. Revealing […]

World Read Aloud Day

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Can you guess what day is quickly approaching? World Read Aloud Day! It’s on February 1, 2019! This is one of our favorite days of the year because it celebrates the power of not just reading, but reading aloud with others such as your family and friends. Every year, on World Read Aloud Day, people […]

Reading is Freedom: MLK Day Reflections on Black boys and reading

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“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – MLK During American slavery it was illegal for slaves to read or for someone to teach slaves to read in many areas. Why did white slave owners have an aversion to slaves learning to read? I’ll give you a hint: […]

Here’s What You May Have Missed


Happy New Year! Thank you for supporting Barbershop Books and for helping us inspire Black boys to read. Here’s what you may have missed in the media this week: KTVU- Fox 2 Menlo Park, California There are barbershops with good cuts and conversation, and then there are barbershops like Sharp Image in Menlo Park, stocked […]

Untapped Opportunities


There are lots of complex challenges facing America and our world in 2019, but I find so much hope in children and the inspired educators who teach them. Here are some of the most interesting articles I read this past month. Most Parents Are Not Involved Enough In Their Child’s Reading Education And the survey […]

New Year, New Heights


New Year, new goals right? This is the time of the year when many set goals such as reading more books, exercising more often, the list goes on and on. However for us it is a new year but the goal is still the same – help young Black boys identify as readers. This is […]

Give the Gift that Keeps Giving – Books!

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We hope that your holiday season is filled with lots of joy and fun times snuggled up with a good book. 2018 was an impactful year for Barbershop Books. Because of your generosity we expanded into Los Angeles, Denver, Maryland, Iowa and more… Your encouraging words, barbereshop recommendations, and donations have been invaluable. Getting a […]

Why We Need to Step Up


Now that the cold weather has arrived, you should grab a cup of something hot (hot chocolate is my preference) and dive into some of the interesting articles I encountered this past month Beyond Battles, Boogers and Pranks A mother discusses her son’s growing interest in emotionally complex early chapter books with girl protagonists. She […]

Give $40 to Baltimore

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Giving Tuesday (November 27th, 2018) is a global giving movement that has been built by individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities in countries around the world. Millions of people have come together to support and champion the causes they believe in and the communities in which they live. This year, you spoke and we listened! […]

Family Literacy Month

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November is one of our favorite months because it is Family Literacy Month! Story time is a great opportunity to bond with your child and help them practicing their reading skills. A family that reads together, grows together. Here are some tips on how to celebrate Family Literacy Month: (1) The Joys of Childhood. We […]

Balanced Literacy

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Fall festivities have begun! Halloween and Thanksgiving themed decor fill the classrooms and stores, but its the literacy rate among boys in our nation, especially young Black boys, which is frightening and of concern to our organization. Here are a few thought-provoking articles: Growing Up In A Household Full Of Books Is A Major Boost […]

Read the Book, Watch the Movie

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We have received many tips on how parents across the country are inspiring their young readers and wanted to share with all of you in hopes to spread the good news. Are you currently trying to figure out how to inspire your young child? Need book suggestions? Looking for creative ways to get involved in […]

Need a Few Suggestions?


Now that school is back in session and your young reader is enjoying the joys of learning, the team at Barbershop Books thought it would be helpful to provide you with a short list of must-read children’s books that will keep your young reader inspired! Here are a few suggestions: Enough “America has been molded […]

Inspiration to Build Your Dreams


By Alvin Irby I hope you’ve had an amazing September. Each month, I look forward to sharing with you a handful of the most thought provoking articles I have read during the past 30 or so days. Here’s what I read this month: Hard Words. Why aren’t Kids Being Taught to Read? All students benefit […]

Teacher Identity


Recent research suggests that young Black children, especially Black boys, benefit when they have Black male teachers. “Research has found that boys, and particularly Black boys, are more affected than girls by disadvantages, like poverty and racism, and by positive influences, like high-quality schools and role models. Yet they are least likely to have had […]

New Insights and Adventures


It’s back-to-school time and I couldn’t be more excited! Although I’m no longer in the classroom, each fall I’m reminded of the joy of new beginnings and the importance of my educational journey. I hope your fall is filled with new insights and adventures. Here are a few great reads I encountered this month: Decades […]

The Literacy Challenge

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We recently celebrated National Nonprofit Day and the tremendous impact that organizations, like Barbershop Books, make in each community across America. One of the amazing attributes of the nonprofit sector is the endless opportunities to serve your community in a positive way. But the question is, in what capacity will you serve? While you ponder […]

You Have The Right to Remain Tested

I have had the pleasure of attending many education conferences over the past month and have met so many education leaders who share my commitment to helping children read. Not only was it beyond a breath of fresh air, it was awe-inspiring and energizing. Third grade reading retention laws were a popular topic during these […]

The Irby Review: Summer Recap

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While I was preparing this month’s Irbry Review, I couldn’t help but notice that summer was coming to a close! As summer winds down and many of us prepare for the back-to-school season, it is refreshing to see so many amazing articles that highlight the importance of both parent and community engagement when building a […]

No Vacation? No Problem.


Summer is a great time to venture out and explore the world. From family vacations to summer camp adventures, there are plenty of activities to keep your kids engaged. Even though some kids aren’t able to travel the world or even out of their city during summer vacation, there is still a way for them […]

National Jazz Appreciation Month Children’s Book List


Jazz Appreciation Month is an awesome time celebrate the rich history and heritage of jazz. During this month, share with your child some of the extraordinary books listed below, that honor the beautiful journey through the history of jazz. Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum. Robert A. Parker. (Schwartz & Wade) This beautiful story […]

The Power of Poetry

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‏by Alvin Irby  April is National Poetry Month, so join us in celebrating the power of poetry to #inspirereaders and transform words into windows of opportunity. Words have and will continue to be one of the most powerful forces in the universe. Those who master them, master the world.  Poems give voice to aspirations, successes, […]

Sometimes, it’s Ok to Read Picture Books that Make Children Feel Uncomfortable.

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@alvinirby March 2, 2018 As we near the end of Read Across America Week, I want to remind parents, educators, and other adults that sometimes it’s ok to read picture books that make children feel uncomfortable. Having taught kindergarten, first grade, and fourth grade in independent, charter, and traditional public schools, I have learned that […]

4 Reasons Why Storytime is Important


By Amy Pelch October 20, 2017 Reading can so often be seen as an individual or personal activity. Yet, when we read a great book all we want to do is tell everyone about it, join book clubs, hear the author read it, or read it with our friends! For children especially, reading together can […]

Crown: One of the Dopest Children’s Books of 2017


October 11, 2017 by Alvin Irby After watching a movie, listening to a song, or reading a book, people sometimes ask, “What did you think?” During these moments of brief reflection, I often rely upon a single question to help me determine my overall opinion of a particular piece of art: Did it make me feel something? Flipping through […]

Great Teachers Affirm the Humanity in the Classroom


by @AlvinIrby October 5, 2017 Today is World Teachers’ Day! Without the great teachers and horrible ones that crossed my path, my life could have went in a completely different direction. Great teachers see the jewels hidden within the rough of each student. I am forever grateful to the teachers who encouraged and inspired me. […]