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Read book reviews, tips for parents, and our latest thoughts about early literacy.

Home Schooling Tips and More…

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Hello friends, Thank you for subscribing to the Irby Review and sharing your thoughts with me each month. Here are some articles I read that I think would be of interest to you during these challenging times. Stuck At Home? These 12 Famous Museum Offer Virtual Tours You Can Take On Your Couch Spring break plans were canceled. Summer travel is […]

Free Children’s Books For Young Readers

#GivingTuesdayNow is a day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 –  in addition to the regularly scheduled Dec 1, 2020 #GivingTuesday – as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. Despite the challenging times and uncertainty that persists today, our work supporting young Black boys across […]

Addressing the Needs of Young Learners


Dear Barbershop Books family, First and foremost, we hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. We want you to know that Barbershop Books is actively exploring ways to support families and communities in creating positive reading experiences for children at home. Barbershop Books is closely monitoring COVID-19 developments and recommendations from local, state and national officials. […]

It Takes a Village

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Hello friends, Thank you for subscribing to the Irby Review and sharing your thoughts with me each month. Here are some articles I read that I think would be of interest to you and your family. It Takes a Village – Black Parents Protecting Black Genius The journalist of this article interviewed Will Jackson, Village of Wisdom founder, about his vision for […]

We’re Here to Help

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These are challenging and uncertain times for everyone and especially parents of young children who are now home for the foreseeable future. Here at Barbershop Books, we want to share some helpful resources that we ALL can enjoy. Whether you are a parent trying to navigate homeschooling your child, an adult who needs some comedic […]

Wonderful News to Share with You


Wow! So much has happened since our last update and now we finally get to share all the wonderful news with you. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this month. Storybook Sundays: Des Moines Barber Encourages Reading with New Program Des Moines Register “Amaru Johnson eagerly slides into a barber chair, holding a book: ‘Finding Mighty,’ by […]

It’s not really about the money…

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Hello friends, Here are some articles I read that I think would be of interest to you and your family. Principal Creates Barbershop In School To Connect With Students By Cutting Their Hair One principal in Delaware understands the relationship between grooming, self-confidence, and learning. Mr. Newton set up a barbershop in his school in order to bond with […]

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Reading Aloud


It’s World Read Aloud Day! Did you know reading aloud to your child 15 minutes a day from birth leads to: growth in knowledge, enriching engagement with family, and a love of books and learning? People often underestimate the importance of reading to a young child. Here are 4 reasons why reading aloud is crucial […]

Help Your Kids Read More This Year


Hello friends, I hope you had a Happy New Year! Thank you for subscribing to The Irby Review and sharing your thoughts with me each month. Here are some articles I discovered that would be of interest to you and your family. A Home Library Can Have A Powerful Effect On Children If you have young children living with you, begin building your home […]

Tips to help your child become a better reader


Parents – we know it can be tough to help your child find their love of reading so we’re here to offer some practical tips and tricks. Here’s a few tips from educator and Chief Reading Inspirer, Alvin Irby:   Create a reading routine – take weekly/monthly trips to the library or book store. Also, […]

Transform barbershops into centers of reading

As the year comes to an end, we want to remind you that there is still time to support young Black boys across the country. Did you know that every $1 invested in the Barbershop Books program generates at least 21 minutes of reading in the barbershop for young readers? Many young Black boys are […]

To our supporters

Dear Barbershop Books Supporter, As you enjoy this holiday season with your loved ones, we hope that you also reflect and celebrate the tremendous impact you have made in the lives of young readers across the country. As a result of your unwavering support, we now have 215 reading spaces in 53 cities across 20 […]

Explaining The Basics Of Human Rights With Your Child


December is quite often the month when one thinks of holiday cheer, shopping, and family gatherings. But, did you know that December is also a time to come together and stand up for equality, justice, and the dignity of all humans? National Human Rights Month is celebrated every December and it provides an opportunity to […]

Shout outs and more…


Thank you for supporting Barbershop Books. Black boys across the country are FALL-ing in love with reading. Here’s what we’ve been up to: SHOUT-OUTS ———————————————————— Judith’s Reading Room names Barbershop Books, as Grand Prize Winner of the 2019 Freedom Through Literacy Award. Barbershop Books Founder Alvin Irby and Chief Operating Officer Tracey Span accepted the […]

Let’s Talk About Racism

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Hello friends, Thank you for subscribing to The Irby Review and sharing your thoughts with me each month. Here are some articles I discovered that would be of interest to you and your family: Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi are Teaming Up to Help Young People Navigate Racism Two award-winning authors collaborated on a young adult book debuting in March 2020 […]

International Day of the Girl

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According to then United Nations, “Since 2012, 11 October has been marked as the International Day of the Girl. The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.” International Day of the Girl is a time to stop and reflect on […]

The Key to Black Boy’s Academic Success


Hello friends, Thank you for subscribing to The Irby Review and sharing your thoughts with me each month. Here are some timely back-to-school articles I discovered that I want to share with you: North Carolina Organization Runs Literacy-Based Anti-Racism Camp for Kids, Professional Development For Educators “We are” nonprofit and its Executive Director, Ronda Taylor Bullock, run a very […]

6 Diverse Books to Read This Week 

Happy first day of the fall season! Fall is one of our favorite seasons because it’s filled with fun adventures found both in books and our own backyards. Orange-hued leaves tumbling in the wind, nights snuggled up with a great book and apple cider, and our all-time favorite activity of visiting the pumpkin patch are […]

Mental Health Needs of Black Boys

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Hello friends, Thank you for subscribing to The Irby Review and sharing your thoughts with me each month! Here are some thought-provoking articles I discovered this past month that I want to share with you: Depression in Black Boys Begins Earlier Than You Think The possible causes of suicide, and the risk factors for Black boys 5-11 must be understood […]

Grandparents Mean The World To Us

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This week is National Grandparents Day! When we think of how much our grandparents mean to us, this particular quote comes to mind: “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.”  —Alex Haley There is a special bond between grandparents and grandchildren that […]

Greatest Literary Voice of our Time

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The literary world recently lost one of the greatest. “Toni Morrison was a gift to the world. Her writing will forever stand as an exemplar of excellence, excavating the human existence and the complexities of American life,” says Barbershop Books Founder, Alvin Irby. Author, book editor, and professor Toni Morrison died at the age of […]

New Shops, New Opportunities

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Outdoor activities are innate to summer, but please remember to take time to read indoors and outside. Lead by example. Show your children how to enjoy reading outside of the classroom. Sign them up for a summer reading challenge and frequent a public library. Barbershop Books in the Media D.L. Hughley Radio on TVOne Darryl Lynn “D.L.” […]

Use It or Lose It


Hello friends, It’s summer time, school is over and it’s equally if not more important for you, your students and your own children to keep on reading! Let’s lead by example. Here are some relevant articles about is topic, and more, I discovered in the past month that I want to share with you: How To Encourage Your Kids To […]

Say No to Summer Slide!

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Summer is here and we are helping you keep your young reader inspired and FAR away from the summer slide. With that being said, have you checked out The King of Kindergarten? This amazing children’s books is a story about a young Black boy embarking on a big milestone — kindergarten! Starting kindergarten is a […]

The Fight for Literacy

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With most school districts coming to a close in May, it is critical for students to retain knowledge and skills learned in the school year, during the summer months. Throughout May, we had the pleasure of welcoming more than 20 new barbershops to the program thanks to supporters, just like you. The summer heat is on; let’s keep the […]

How to Keep Kids of All Ages Reading During the Summer


Hello friends, Thank you for subscribing to The Irby Review and sharing your thoughts with me every month! Here are some thought-provoking articles I discovered in the past month that I want to share with you: Nearly One-In-Five Americans Now Listen to Audio books Do you prefer to hold and read a print book? Do you feel you are retaining […]

The Cultural Significance of Barbershops in Black Communities


“The barbershop is a place you come to unwind and build self-esteem. You got brothers coming in with high self-esteem and we maintain that. Or you got brothers coming in with low self-esteem and we hook them up with their appearance and give them pep talks and stuff like that, and make it a place […]

7 Summer Reads for Children of Color

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School’s out for summer, but that doesn’t mean learning ceases. This is one of the most opportune seasons to engage your young reader and increase out-of-school reading time. Here’s a list of great children’s books to get the summer rolling in style: Daddy Calls Me Man, Writer, Angela Johnson, Illustrator, Rhonda Mitchell, Recommended for ages […]

Spring Forward

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In nature, April represents a month of transition and growth, which perfectly captures all the amazing Barbershop Books news from last month. We had the distinct honor and pleasure of welcoming new barbershops to the program thanks to supporters, just like you. With that being said, here’s what we were up to in April: Power […]

Kids don’t come with instructions…


“There is no app to replace your lap: Read to your child.” Hello, Thank you for subscribing to The Irby Review. The Irby Review is a monthly newsletter from Alvin Irby, founder of Barbershop Books. For insights on current events in education, read Irby’s commentary on these interesting articles. Reading to Your Toddler? Print Books Are Better Than […]


Thank you!

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week! Have you thanked a teacher this week? A teacher’s impact extends far beyond their classroom and has the ability to impact generations. Their countless hours grading papers, restless nights thinking about their students, and long days teaching lessons is what lays the foundation for one’s future success. To say we are […]

Reading Role Models

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Role Model: a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.   What example are you setting for a child? So often, we forget that our everyday actions have the potential to shape a child’s life. Whether you are a teacher, parent, aunt, brother, and etc. […]

Impacts of Implicit Bias

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Hello there Explore the power of human connection, the negative impacts of implicit bias on Black entrepreneurs, and the challenges of improving reading at the state level. The Irby Review is a monthly newsletter from Barbershop Books Founder Alvin Irby. For insights on current events in education, read Irby’s commentary on these interesting articles. Black Boys […]

World Book Day


When you open a book, you open a new world of possibilities and joy that can shared with others. World Book Day is one of our favorite holidays because it celebrates the power of books in people both young and old! Here’s why we love books. Books bring forth knowledge Books are filled with information […]

Jazz music in all its glory


Among many other important celebrations, April is also the month that we all celebrate all the significant contributions that jazz music has made to society! To honor Jazz Appreciation Month, here’s a list of children’s books we recommend you try: 1. Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum. Robert A. Parker. (Schwartz & Wade) This beautiful […]

How do you library?


Libraries = Strong Communiites. This year’s National Library Week theme celebrates the power of academic, public, and school libraries. Libraries mean many things to so many people, especially young readers. Libraries have the power to strengthen communities and spread a love of reading among people of all ages – and as Barbershop Books proves everyday […]

Hold Fast To Dreams

National Poetry Month

In honor of National Poetry Month, we will be sharing information about our favorite poets! This week, we celebrate the life and legacy of Langston Hughes. Langston Hughes was the central figure of the Harlem Renaissance, and his work has inspired generations of Black poets. Hughes also wrote novels, short stories, essays, and plays. He sought to […]

Here’s What You Missed Last Month


February was a busy month for Barbershop Books filled with the launch of Beautyshop Books, new barbershops, and so much more! Take a look: Barbershop Books in the Media NBC New York- Positively Black: Hey New Yorkers! Did you catch Barbershop Books on NBC New York’s Positively Black segment with Tracie Strahan? Watch it now The Social […]

Relationship Building

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Here are some of the most interesting articles I read this past month. Please feel free to share these great reads with your friends, colleagues, and family. Let Children Get Bored Again I think that children should have unscheduled time in their day but I also think access to technology should be restricted. A child with […]

4 Books to Celebrate Women’s History Month


In honor of Women’s History Month, here are four great children’s books that celebrate the power and ingenuity of women: “Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World”  by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, Emily Winfield Martin, Shadra Strickland, Melissa Sweet, LeUyen Pham, Oge Mora, Julie Morstad, Lisa Brown, Selina Alko, […]

Black History Month Celebration


As you are celebrating Black History Month with your children, we have put together a list of good reads that you all can enjoy together! Here are a few suggestions: Bright Eyes, Brown Skin By: Cheryl Hudson, Bernette Ford, George Cephas Ford Illustrated by: George Cephas Ford “Four African American children interact with one another […]

Barbershop Books Monthly News

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I hope you found a warm place to cuddle up with a good book during the polar vortex. Keep the winter blues away by being active, using bright lights inside, and of course curling up with a book. Thank you for helping us to inspire Black boys to read. Barbershop Books in the Media WOSU […]



Love is in the air and we are not just talking about Valentine’s Day. It is highly important to instill a love of reading early on in your child’s life. With that being said, here is an acronym that will help:  L – Listen to your child’s interests. Children know their likes and dislikes. Some […]

“I Love My Skin!”


Your effort and enthusiasm directly influence students’ commitment to learning. We hope you find January’s articles helpful and inspiring in your fields, and in your roles as moms, dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Thank you for subscribing to The Irby Review. Here are some of the most interesting articles I read this past month. Revealing […]

World Read Aloud Day

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Can you guess what day is quickly approaching? World Read Aloud Day! It’s on February 1, 2019! This is one of our favorite days of the year because it celebrates the power of not just reading, but reading aloud with others such as your family and friends. Every year, on World Read Aloud Day, people […]

Reading is Freedom: MLK Day Reflections on Black boys and reading

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by Alvin Irby “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – MLK During American slavery it was illegal for slaves to read or for someone to teach slaves to read in many areas. Why did white slave owners have an aversion to slaves learning to read? I’ll give […]

Here’s What You May Have Missed


Happy New Year! Thank you for supporting Barbershop Books and for helping us inspire Black boys to read. Here’s what you may have missed in the media this week: KTVU- Fox 2 Menlo Park, California There are barbershops with good cuts and conversation, and then there are barbershops like Sharp Image in Menlo Park, stocked […]

Untapped Opportunities


There are lots of complex challenges facing America and our world in 2019, but I find so much hope in children and the inspired educators who teach them. Here are some of the most interesting articles I read this past month. Most Parents Are Not Involved Enough In Their Child’s Reading Education And the survey […]

New Year, New Heights


New Year, new goals right? This is the time of the year when many set goals such as reading more books, exercising more often, the list goes on and on. However for us it is a new year but the goal is still the same – help young Black boys identify as readers. This is […]

Give the Gift that Keeps Giving – Books!

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We hope that your holiday season is filled with lots of joy and fun times snuggled up with a good book. 2018 was an impactful year for Barbershop Books. Because of your generosity we expanded into Los Angeles, Denver, Maryland, Iowa and more… Your encouraging words, barbereshop recommendations, and donations have been invaluable. Getting a […]