Video produced, filmed and edited by Raishad Hardnett; additional editing by Alex Clark, Eddie Costas and Heather Hass


By the fourth grade, more than 80 percent of black boys in many of the nation’s school districts have fallen behind their peers in reading. This staggering figure not only highlights the shortcomings of America’s school system but also emphasizes the need for new ideas on how to approach and address the needs of students of color.

When teacher Alvin Irby witnessed one of his first-graders waiting to get a haircut, he stumbled upon a simple and effective solution: “He should be practicing his reading right now!”

Check out the video to see how Barbershop Books has affected more than 100 barbershops across 17 states.

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