Literacy and line-ups: How Chattanooga's Barbershop Books Program encourages minority youth to read
A group of 10 barbershops in Chattanooga are helping minority kids find their passion for reading by participating in the city's 'Barbershop Books Program'.
It's an initiative Community Engagement Specialist Jaleesa Brumfield helped bring to the city through its Department of Youth and Family Development.
"This is just a perfect opportunity for them to pick up a book and read," Brumfield said.
The goal of the program is to help young readers like 5 year-old Mason Beck find a love for books early on in their educational careers.
"It's fun because it has so many good pages about stuff in it," he told Channel 3.
For barbers like Durand Wiley at Barber Kings on Shallowford Road, the job doesn't stop at making sure young boys who come in leave with a clean cut or fresh fade.
They're also making sure they walk out of the shop's door with a sharp mind.
"Reading is not up to par in our community and I think it's a good job for us to step up," Wiley said.
Brumfield, who says she got the idea after seeing a post on Facebook, believes it may help younger minority students in Hamilton County who struggle with literacy.
"I really wanted to focus on minority boys because within Chattanooga 8 out of ten black boys do not go into 4th grade on reading level, which is devastating because I'm a mom myself," she recalled.
The program has only been in effect for a week an a half and Brumfield says she's already received dozens of photos and messages of kids sitting in the barber chair reading.
Wiley tells Channel 3 they're also working to find other ways to incentivize kids who come in and read.