Will Read For Haircut—How One Iowa Barber Is Helping Kids With Literacy


Dubuque Barber Courtney Holmes thought of the perfect way to prepare kids for going back to school—not only by cutting their hair, but also by having them practice their reading for him, reported the Demoines Register. It began during a Back to School Bash in Comiskey Park, which involved various nonprofit organizations and community partners and was coordinated by Anderson Sainci. “The idea is to connect people to people and people to resources,” Sainci said to the Telegraph Herald Online. At it, St. Mark Youth Enrichment gave books away.

The story of Courtney Holmes providing free haircuts to children who read stories to him at the Back to School Bash has…

Posted by Spark Family Hair Salon on Thursday, August 13, 2015

“I just want to support kids reading,” Holmes said. Beth McGorry, outreach coordinator with the enrichment program, agreed. “This is amazing. It’s fabulous,” McGorry said regarding Holmes helping kids with unfamiliar words. At Spark Family Hair Salon, one boy, Tayshawn Kirby, 9, read to Holmes from Fats, Oils and Sweets (by Carol Parenzan Smalley), telling him facts like how the average person eats 150 pounds of sugar per year. The boy’s aunt, Kathleen Winfrey, thought the exchange was ideal. “I love it. It’s good for our community,” she said.

Providng free hair cuts for all kids who read. #ReadWhereYouAre. This was amazing.

Posted by Dubuque Black Men Coalition on Saturday, August 8, 2015

Holmes was read to while he worked for four hours during the event. For kids who didn’t get a chance to get a haircut, Holmes gave them “coupons”—his business card to come back with a book for a free cut. The reading-for-a-haircut may turn into a monthly event at the salon. Aside from books Holmes is bringing in, people in the neighborhood want to donate books, too. “This is one small way that we can start something—to reach out to parents and let them know the importance of reading and making sure kids get the knowledge they need so that they don’t have to struggle through school,” Holmes told PEOPLE. “There’s a lot going on in the world. But it only takes one person to change something. I am just trying to make a difference,” he said.