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Barbershop Boys Get Hooked on Books

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Aug. 2, 2004

(Dallas) - A snip, a cut, a trim and…a book?

That's what area educators and barbershop owners believe will be a winning combination for their regular customers in grades 3 through 12, starting this August in the Dallas area. What better way to get young boys hooked on books than to give them something worthwhile to read as they wait for their turn in the barber's chair?

The Dallas County Community College District's African American Read-In committee has been working behind the scenes this summer to establish a local version of Boys Booked on Barbershops, a literacy program which is based on a national model that was started in Tampa, Fla., by Cassandra Davis. Davis and Dr. Sabrina Brinson of Memphis, Tenn., co-founded the national literacy program, which partners barbershops with local educators who encourage boys to read.

Boys Booked on Barbershops - or B-BOB, as it's known among participants - will kick off in Dallas on Thurs., Aug. 12, at Graham's Barber College Inc., located at 3016 Grand Ave. The program will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.. A number of parents and their sons - as well as DCCCD representatives, including Dr. Jesus "Jess" Carreon, the district's chancellor, and Dr. Richard McCrary, DCCCD interim vice chancellor for educational affairs - will attend.

"Boys Booked on Barbershops is a national literacy program designed to advance the literacy of young children by making the most of reading opportunities that occur naturally, in the context of their cultures and in their communities at familiar neighborhood sites: barbershops," said Carla Ranger, DCCCD director of educational partnerships and founder of the district's citywide African American Read-In. "We are so excited to build partnerships with area barbers who believe, as we do, that literacy is key to the development of children. A barbershop is the perfect place to put what B-BOB calls 'reading nooks' so that boys can spend quality time reading books that challenge their minds and their imaginations."

Approximately 15 barbershops are ready to receive books and open reading nooks in their establishments. Graham's Barber College, which is helping DCCCD launch the program, also includes six barbershops that will participate. As more books are bought or donated, the program will grow to include other barbershops.

"We are grateful to all of the barbershops that already have agreed to participate in B-BOB," said Ranger. "We also are seeking donors and sponsors to help us expand the program." Current partners in the program include the DCCCD African American Read-In committee, as well as State Farm Insurance, the Green Sheet Foundation, Earning by Learning of Dallas and Scholastic, and American Legacy Magazine. Anyone interested in joining the effort as a sponsor can contact Ranger at 214-860-2005.

Participating barbershops designate an area in their stores - the reading nooks - where age-appropriate books are available to read while young boys wait for their haircuts. Each boy fills out a reading log so that he can track how much time he spends reading during each visit. B-BOB shops also can provide additional incentives, such as a free or discounted haircut for boys who read a pre-designated number of books.

"We've seen other benefits grow from B-BOB, too," said Ranger, "such as read-aloud sessions between adults and children; shared reading among children; discussions about books they have read; and follow-ups that involve related books. We believe this initiative is an ideal way to promote literacy among young men and to encourage them to read."

For more information, call Ranger or Doncella Milton at 214-860-2005; or Allison Neal at 214-616-2965.