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This Barber Gives Free Haircuts to Kids Who Read To Him

By James Merritt

The summer fun season is almost over. Kids have enjoyed trips, time with friends, camps, and best of all, no school. During that time, how many took the summer to catch up or stay up on their reading?

In Dubuque, Iowa, a barber did his part to make sure some of the children got their reading time. He gave away a free haircut if the children chose to read a book to him. That’s right, he traded the story tails for trims.

Barber Courtney Holmes invited children to read books during his 2nd Annual  Back to School Bash in the Comisky Park neighborhood. It’s his way of helping families prepare for the upcoming school year. Of course free haircuts as part of back to school traditions are pretty regular these days. But requiring reading to get the haircut? That’s pretty rare.

“I just want to support the kids,” said Holmes as children lined up to get books and read them during their turn in his chair. Tayshawn Kirby, 9, of Dubuqe, read “Fats, Oils, and Sweet,” by Carol Parenzan Smalley. Titan Feeney, his 10 year old brother, waited anxiously to read his book and get his cut. All the children on that day received a free book and information on free resources that can be found in the community.

St. Mark Youth Enrichment donated books to the event and other participating organizations including the community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and the city of Dubuque. “It’s great,” said Daniels. “All the kids want to have a good haircut for back-to-school and they are paying through reading.”

According to GlobeGazette, more than 100 people received books, free resources, and before and after care programs during the event. The first day of school in Dubuque is September 1. Hopefully many of the children will go back in a great state of mind because of this program.

According to the National Association of Educational Progress, 69% of Black children cannot read at grade level by 4th grade and Fourth graders who reported having 25 books or more at home had higher scores on reading tests than children who reported they didn’t have that many books. It is well documented that during summer break, low-income students lose more than two months of reading achievement and parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do.

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