The barbershop is an important cultural place for African-American boys, who not only get haircuts there, but also learn life lessons from the men in this male-centered space. Now, DeKalb County Public Library is using the influence of the barbershop to encourage young, black boys to read more.
In partnership with a nonprofit program called Barbershop Books, the Library kicked off a new outreach program at the ITNOJ (In the Name of Jesus) Barbershop in Scottdale, Georgia on Dec. 16. The shop now hosts a rack of books aimed at boys ages 4 to eight years old.
Teresa Totten, the Library’s Programming and Services Coordinator, says the purpose is to encourage the children to choose a book and read.
“They can read aloud or quietly to themselves while waiting to get in the barber’s chair or while getting a haircut,” she says. “We are also encouraging adults in the shop to read to the little ones.”
Totten says ITNOJ owner Todd Cofield is excited about having the books at his shop because his young customers have been thrilled. She says Cofield has even asked for books for older pre-teen boys, who also want to read while at the shop.
Because the program is going so well at the first location, the Library plans to expand it. Totten says three more locations will get book racks by the end of January.