How One Barber Is Encouraging Children To Read

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Children don’t always want to do the things that are good for them. Unfortunately, this can include practicing vital life skills they’ll have to use for years to come, such as reading. Neglecting these sorts of skills often leads to negative life outcomes well beyond childhood. But now one Illinois barber has come up with an inventive way to address this issue in his local community.

The basic idea is simple: Courtney Holmes, a barber in Dubuque, Illinois, offered a free hair cut to any child who would read to him while in the chair. The trade was initially offered as part of the Back to School Bash organized by the My Brother’s Keeper program and the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, according to Good magazine, but the overwhelmingly positive response Holmes received led him to make plans for a monthly event.

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The success of the scheme is not only in the perceived fairness of the trade, though kids do seem to love the idea of coming away with a smart new haircut for school in return for a little story time. The real strength behind the program is Holmes’ attitude.

“This attitude of sharing and cooperation helps the kids to admit any difficulties they have and to work through them with Holmes, developing their skills as they go.”

He organized the books for the event with the help of local community groups, and his invitation to the children is “Go to the table and get a book you might like, and if you can’t read it, I’ll help you understand and we can read it together.” This attitude of sharing and cooperation helps the kids to admit any difficulties they have and to work through them with Holmes, developing their skills as they go. The salon now also hosts a free library to further encourage Holmes’ young clients on their learning journeys.

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Not every way of helping has to be part of a wider scheme; individual responses such as Holmes’ brilliant idea can trigger a love of learning and reading in many children. However, when it comes to combating worldwide illiteracy, organizations such as The Literacy Site can make your help spread even further.


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The Literacy Site is a place where people can come together to help children gain access to a good education. In addition to signing petitions, shopping for the cause, and staying informed about literacy and education, visitors can take just a moment each day to click on an orange button to provide books for children in need. Visit The Literacy Site and click today - it's free!