A barbershop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, is encouraging young children to pick up books and read them aloud to their barber as they get a haircut — and they get a $2 discount to boot.
While the idea is not unique by any means (a number of businesses across the country have adopted some variation of it over the years), it is certainly inspiring.
A similar program in Harlem, New York, inspired Ryan Griffin, a barber at the Fuller Cut barbershop who introduced the discount program to his boss. Soon the word got around and people began donating books to the shop.
“Parents love it and the kids … well, they like getting the $2 back,” Griffin told The Huffington Post. “We get compliments from teachers all the time, too.”
The children don’t just read anything during their appointment, the literature they read has a specific theme.
“All our books have positive images of African-Americans — whether it’s astronauts, athletes or writers,” Griffin explained. “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. Because when a kid thinks it’s cool to read, that’s a gift.”
If a kid is unable to finish a particular book in one session, Griffin has them mark it and they pick up where they left off in the next visit. He believes this practice would help build confidence in the children who are too shy to read aloud in class.
"It's an amazing thing," customer Keith Jason, who brought in his 7-year-old for a mohawk, told NPR. "It's helping my pockets, it's helping their education and it's helping prepare a better future for them, so I love it."
Meanwhile, the barbershop has an ulterior motive behind the program.
“If we can get kids to come back to the Fuller Cut as adults in college and they tell us, ‘Because you guys had us read here, it made me want to be a writer or journalist,’ that’s really the end goal,” Griffin said.
It is a beautiful thought and an equally beautiful gesture.