Thanks to The Fuller Cut, a Black-owned barbershop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, children from the community are always looking forward to their next haircut. All they have to do is read aloud books about Black role models, and they will get their two dollars back!
“Parents love it and the kids… well, they like getting the two dollars back,” Ryan Griffin, a barber at The Fuller Cut who brought the idea of the discount program to the shop. “We get compliments from teachers all the time, too.”
Griffin makes sure the kids learn and relate to what they are reading. The books specifically “have positive images of African-Americans — whether it’s astronauts, athletes or writers,” he said.
Griffin, a father of three who has been working at the barbershop for 20 years, heard of the concept being used in other states and thought it would be nice to do it in their shop as well. So he started bringing old books he saw in their home and told parents about the idea.
“And that’s just how it started. It wasn’t anything grand. I just wanted to be responsible,” he said. “I hope people reading this and feel the same way go to their barbershop or beauty salons and tell them about this program as well.”
The reading program has benefited the business too. They have welcomed more and more new customers who specifically want their children to experience it. Parents love that it also teaches children to be generous in giving books for shop use. Even smaller children who don’t know how to read yet will get curious and grab a book. Griffin says that it is “what’s important. Because when a kid thinks it’s cool to read, that’s a gift.”
The progress of the kids who participate in the program is kept on track. If they weren’t able to finish the book they were reading in one session, they will continue where they left off on their next haircut. Aside from the fact that reading aloud helps build their confidence, that particular process also enhances their reading comprehension.
Moreover, Griffin hopes the positive impact the shop and their program has on the children’s lives goes beyond their future as well.
“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.”