ThriftBooks will make annual donation of 20,000 books curated by Barbershop Books.
The nation's most innovative solution for inspiring young black boys to read

Alvin Irby, MS, MPA

Founder & Chief Reading Inspirer


Alvin Irby is a former kindergarten teacher turned award-winning social entrepreneur, national speaker, comedian, and author. He is Founder and Chief Reading Inspirer at Barbershop Books, a literacy program that creates child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops and provides early literacy training to barbers. His work connecting reading to male-centered spaces and involving men in boys’ early reading experiences earned him the National Book Foundation’s 2017 Innovations in Reading Prize.

Irby works with school districts, library systems, and nonprofits to provide customized cultural competency training that helps educators and administrators translate learning objectivers into engaging communication and relevant learning experiences.  His nationally recognized keynotes and workshops excavate his eclectic professional and personal life to better understand and address one of American education’s greatest challenges – cultivating children’s intrinsic motivation to read and learn.

Irby’s debut children’s book, Gross Greg, combines his passion for humor and early literacy; it is a laugh-out-loud story that captures the hilariously gross behavior of kids everywhere.  As a stand up comedian, Irby's clever social commentary and astute observations shine through in his 2018 comedy album "Really Dense." One of the highlights of his comedy career was being selected a 2015 StandUp NBC national finalist and performing at the legendary Hollywood Improv in Los Angeles, CA.

Alvin Irby holds a Masters of Science (M.S.) in General Childhood Education from Bank Street Graduate School of Education, a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, and a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology from Grinnell College.