#BarberReadingChallenge Encourages Community Literacy

Jailene Adorno ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

#BarberBooksChallenge. Source: https://barbershopbooks.org/fbb/

It’s always exciting to hear about how different communities and groups of people come together for a special cause. The employees of the Spark Family Hair Salon in Dubuque, Iowa are diving into their community in a really big way. They’re calling it the Barber Reading Challenge and using the hashtag #BarberReadingChallenge in order to spread the word.

So what exactly is the Barber Reading Challenge? In order to promote literacy within his community, barber Courtney Holmes of Spark Family Hair Salon started a program that gives free haircuts to children who read to him while getting their hair cut. This challenge not only helps promote literacy, but it also helps children practice their reading so that they can earn better test scores. This challenge is attracting national attention, encouraging barbers all over the United States to not only take on the challenge, but also to become active participants in the lives of the children in their communities.

Programs like this are great ways to get the community involved in the lives of children. The Spark Family Hair Salon is providing these free haircuts on the first Tuesday of every month. After each haircut, the barbers even send the children home with a bag of more books so that they’ll have more to read when they come back.

Why is this important? According to DoSomething.org, one in four children living in America grow up without learning how to read. SavetheChildren.org has reported that if children in the fourth grade aren’t able to read within their grade level, chances are they never will be. Statistics like this can really raise eyebrows not only for parents, but for educators as well. We need to take a more active stand when it comes to promoting child literacy around the United States. Reading is fundamental and it opens so many doors allowing children to really use their imagination.

If parents and teachers work together to get people in our communities involved in issues such as child literacy, then they might actually be able to make a difference. More than half of low-income families can’t even afford to buy books for their children; therefore, the only reading that they are doing is in school and sometimes that just isn’t enough. Children need to be able to explore their imagination through books, and there are so many programs out there that acknowledge this as an issue and work towards improving it. If children can view reading as a cool and positive activity, then they’ll feel more inclined to do it more often.

Take the challenge and encourage others to do so as well. Not everyone can give free haircuts to children who read to them, but there are so many ways to get involved and help out. There are so many children out there who need special attention when it comes to reading. Anyone can help make a difference. Who knows, this may even turn into the next Ice Bucket Challenge, where people all around the world find creative ways to support a cause.

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