The Fuller Cut is a barbershop in working-class town Ypsilanti, Michigan that has been gaining a lot of buzz recently for encouraging kids to read. How? Kids are given a $2 discount if they read aloud to their barbers as they get their haircuts.
Barber Ryan Griffin can be credited for starting the discount program at The Fuller Cut, though he admits that he got the idea after reading about a similar program in Harlem, New York.
“It hit me like a book! I was like, that is so responsible to have these kids not waste their time just either sitting there doing nothing, or playing a video game. They can read,” Griffin told CNN.
“I hope people reading this and feel the same way go to their barbershop or beauty salons and tell them about this program as well.”
Photo: The Fuller Cut/Facebook
The father of three asked his boss if they could adapt the program. He started small, bringing in books he had lying around at home and just telling parents about the discount.
“And that’s just how it started. It wasn’t anything grand. I just wanted to be responsible,” he told The Huffington Post. “I hope people reading this and feel the same way go to their barbershop or beauty salons and tell them about this program as well.”
The community loved the idea, and within a few weeks of introducing the program, people were already donating books for it. The books at The Fuller Cut cater specifically to the neighborhood—the barbershop’s library has 75-100 books that feature positive images of African-Americans.
Read more about how this amazing program encourages kids to read on the next page.
“We get complimented by teachers that will say it does so much for these kids throughout the school year,” Griffin told NPR.
Griffin tracks the progress of the kids in the program, so that if they don’t finish a book, they can pick up where they left off in their next haircut. When the kids have trouble reading a word, their barber also helps them out. Reading to their barbers builds up the confidence of the kids, and also encourages other kids to read as well.
“When little kids that don’t really know how to read or what’s going on see an older kid in the chair with a book and then grab a book too, that’s what’s important,” Griffin explained to The Huffington Post. “Because when a kid thinks it’s cool to read, that’s a gift.”
“You know, maybe someday some kid will grow up and be a journalist, be a writer, and he’ll say, ‘You know what, when I was young, my barber used to make me read.'”
Photo: The Fuller Story/Facebook
Wouldn’t it be great if all barbershops had a program like this in place? In this digital age, it getting tougher to get kids to read, and so they need all the incentives they can get. With a little encouragement, however, even the most book-wary of kids may be able to discover that reading isn’t such a bore—that in itself can pave the way to so many doors.
“You may have a kid that never wanted to read, and now all of a sudden the kid will come in and read,” Griffin told CNN. “You may have a kid that’s reading really soft because he doesn’t want somebody to hear him mess up, but then after a couple of times this kid is (reading) out loud now.”
Griffin has a bigger vision for the kids he has read to him. His end goal is to encourage them to want bigger things, like go to college and become professionals.
“Any help these kids can get with reading and … comprehension is a big thing,” he told NPR. “You know, maybe someday some kid will grow up and be a journalist, be a writer, and he’ll say, ‘You know what, when I was young, my barber used to make me read.'”
READ: How to raise kids who prefer reading to screentime
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