The nation's most innovative solution for inspiring young black boys to read
Read book reviews, tips for parents, and our latest thoughts about early literacy.

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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“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 you a hint: […]

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 […]

Why We Need to Step Up


Now that the cold weather has arrived, you should grab a cup of something hot (hot chocolate is my preference) and dive into some of the interesting articles I encountered this past month Beyond Battles, Boogers and Pranks A mother discusses her son’s growing interest in emotionally complex early chapter books with girl protagonists. She […]

Give $40 to Baltimore

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Giving Tuesday (November 27th, 2018) is a global giving movement that has been built by individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities in countries around the world. Millions of people have come together to support and champion the causes they believe in and the communities in which they live. This year, you spoke and we listened! […]

Family Literacy Month

Family Literacy Month

November is one of our favorite months because it is Family Literacy Month! Story time is a great opportunity to bond with your child and help them practicing their reading skills. A family that reads together, grows together. Here are some tips on how to celebrate Family Literacy Month: (1) The Joys of Childhood. We […]

Balanced Literacy

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Fall festivities have begun! Halloween and Thanksgiving themed decor fill the classrooms and stores, but its the literacy rate among boys in our nation, especially young Black boys, which is frightening and of concern to our organization. Here are a few thought-provoking articles: Growing Up In A Household Full Of Books Is A Major Boost […]

Read the Book, Watch the Movie

A bedtime story — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

We have received many tips on how parents across the country are inspiring their young readers and wanted to share with all of you in hopes to spread the good news. Are you currently trying to figure out how to inspire your young child? Need book suggestions? Looking for creative ways to get involved in […]

Need a Few Suggestions?


Now that school is back in session and your young reader is enjoying the joys of learning, the team at Barbershop Books thought it would be helpful to provide you with a short list of must-read children’s books that will keep your young reader inspired! Here are a few suggestions: Enough “America has been molded […]

Inspiration to Build Your Dreams


By Alvin Irby I hope you’ve had an amazing September. Each month, I look forward to sharing with you a handful of the most thought provoking articles I have read during the past 30 or so days. Here’s what I read this month: Hard Words. Why aren’t Kids Being Taught to Read? All students benefit […]

Teacher Identity


Recent research suggests that young Black children, especially Black boys, benefit when they have Black male teachers. “Research has found that boys, and particularly Black boys, are more affected than girls by disadvantages, like poverty and racism, and by positive influences, like high-quality schools and role models. Yet they are least likely to have had […]

New Insights and Adventures


It’s back-to-school time and I couldn’t be more excited! Although I’m no longer in the classroom, each fall I’m reminded of the joy of new beginnings and the importance of my educational journey. I hope your fall is filled with new insights and adventures. Here are a few great reads I encountered this month: Decades […]

The Literacy Challenge

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We recently celebrated National Nonprofit Day and the tremendous impact that organizations, like Barbershop Books, make in each community across America. One of the amazing attributes of the nonprofit sector is the endless opportunities to serve your community in a positive way. But the question is, in what capacity will you serve? While you ponder […]

You Have The Right to Remain Tested

I have had the pleasure of attending many education conferences over the past month and have met so many education leaders who share my commitment to helping children read. Not only was it beyond a breath of fresh air, it was awe-inspiring and energizing. Third grade reading retention laws were a popular topic during these […]

The Irby Review: Summer Recap

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While I was preparing this month’s Irbry Review, I couldn’t help but notice that summer was coming to a close! As summer winds down and many of us prepare for the back-to-school season, it is refreshing to see so many amazing articles that highlight the importance of both parent and community engagement when building a […]

No Vacation? No Problem.


Summer is a great time to venture out and explore the world. From family vacations to summer camp adventures, there are plenty of activities to keep your kids engaged. Even though some kids aren’t able to travel the world or even out of their city during summer vacation, there is still a way for them […]

National Jazz Appreciation Month Children’s Book List


Jazz Appreciation Month is an awesome time celebrate the rich history and heritage of jazz. During this month, share with your child some of the extraordinary books listed below, that honor the beautiful journey through the history of jazz. Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum. Robert A. Parker. (Schwartz & Wade) This beautiful story […]

The Power of Poetry

Jason Reynolds

‏by Alvin Irby  April is National Poetry Month, so join us in celebrating the power of poetry to #inspirereaders and transform words into windows of opportunity. Words have and will continue to be one of the most powerful forces in the universe. Those who master them, master the world.  Poems give voice to aspirations, successes, […]

Sometimes, it’s Ok to Read Picture Books that Make Children Feel Uncomfortable.

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@alvinirby March 2, 2018 As we near the end of Read Across America Week, I want to remind parents, educators, and other adults that sometimes it’s ok to read picture books that make children feel uncomfortable. Having taught kindergarten, first grade, and fourth grade in independent, charter, and traditional public schools, I have learned that […]

4 Reasons Why Storytime is Important


By Amy Pelch October 20, 2017 Reading can so often be seen as an individual or personal activity. Yet, when we read a great book all we want to do is tell everyone about it, join book clubs, hear the author read it, or read it with our friends! For children especially, reading together can […]

Crown: One of the Dopest Children’s Books of 2017


October 11, 2017 by Alvin Irby After watching a movie, listening to a song, or reading a book, people sometimes ask, “What did you think?” During these moments of brief reflection, I often rely upon a single question to help me determine my overall opinion of a particular piece of art: Did it make me feel something? Flipping through […]

Great Teachers Affirm the Humanity in the Classroom


by @AlvinIrby October 5, 2017 Today is World Teachers’ Day! Without the great teachers and horrible ones that crossed my path, my life could have went in a completely different direction. Great teachers see the jewels hidden within the rough of each student. I am forever grateful to the teachers who encouraged and inspired me. […]

5 Banned Children’s Books That May Surprise You


By Felicity LuHill & Amy Pelch September 29, 2017 This week is Banned Books Week! Banned Books Week is a time to celebrate the freedom to read and celebrate great books that have previously been censored. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 by the American Library Association, and for 35 years, libraries and publishers across America […]

Emotional Lessons Through Children’s Books

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By Zenobia Jackson September 15, 2017   Many books coach parents and educators on how to teach children social skills such as empathy, manners, and sharing. But an even better way to introduce these concepts to children is through children’s literature. There are many books that expose children to the social skills they need as […]

4 BIG Tips For Going Back to School


By Felicity LuHill September 1, 2017   It’s that time of year again! Whether your child has been spending his summer out at the pool or participating in summertime enrichment activities, he’s going to have to adjust to heading back to school. Though most kids aren’t too happy about summer being over, there are some […]

3 Reasons Laughter Belongs in Every Classroom


By @AlvinIrby August 16, 2017   Happy National Tell a Joke Day! Here are three reasons why laughter should be encouraged in the classroom: 1. Laughter lowers stress hormones + Relaxes muscles Many children deal with all types of stress and it doesn’t magically disappear just because a teacher wants a kid to learn something. […]

4 Books That’ll Take You Around the World


By Zenobia Jackson August 11, 2017   One of my favorite quotes about literacy comes from Mason Cooley: “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.” A great book allows one to travel along with the characters, to see what they see and to feel what they feel. […]

Getting Kids to Read by Choice


By Zenobia Jackson July 28, 2017 Allowing children, and specifically boys to select what they read can be a powerful change agent in the motivation to read. In the majority of schools, student choice is an education phrase that is thrown around to say that we are giving students choice in their learning. But in […]

3 Ways to Prevent Summer Slide


By Felicity LuHill July 10, 2017   What is Summer Slide? Summer Slide is a fun-sounding phrase for a serious issue. It’s the tendency to lose some level of knowledge or skill set achieved the previous school year during summer break. It is most likely to occur with struggling readers and children who “slide” out of […]

Create Your Own Declaration of Independence


By Felicity LuHill February 20, 2017   In honor of President’s Day, create your very own Declaration of Independence! With your early reader, either at home or in the classroom.   What you need: 3 Black Tea Bags Plain White Paper or Paper with the Declaration of Independence text*** Black Pen or Marker (a calligraphy […]

3 Takeaways From Alvin Irby’s Workshop


By Felicity LuHill June 30, 2017   A couple weeks ago, Barbershop Books Founder, Alvin Irby led his workshop, “Kale Salad & Boogers: How Cultural Competency Creates Transformative Reading Experiences” at the National Book Foundation’s conference, Why Reading Matters. Along with being direct about the issues young black boys face in schools today, Alvin also […]

8 Diverse Books to Read This Summer!


By Felicity LuHill June 12, 2017   Young Cornrows Callin’ Out the Moon by Ruth Forman – A fun portrayal of summertime in the city! Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña – A boy learns about compassion while riding the bus with his grandmother. Juna’s Jar by Jane Bahk – Juna’s kimchi jar lets her imagination soar […]

Attending a Reading for Boys from Low-Income Families


By Felicity LuHill May 19, 2017   Last week, I attended the spring semester reading for WriteOn, a non-profit that “connects passionate writing teachers with underserved school children.” The teachers are second year Creative Writing MFA Candidates at The New School and the students are fourth through eighth graders from George Jackson Academy, an independent, […]

Tapping Into Your Inner Child


By Felicity LuHill May 12, 2017   My apartment building is right next to an elementary school and I work from home, which means I have the joy of listening to little kids scream in the school yard all day while I work. And I’m not saying “joy” sarcastically; it really is a joy. As […]

Leveled Classroom Libraries Matter for Young Readers (Part 1)


May 9, 2017 @alvinirby I recently had a conversation with a kindergarten teacher who explained that her young learners were struggling to apply the reading strategies she had taught them. Her students had made less progress by that time in the year than she had hoped. I inquired about what independent reading time looked like […]

Why White Kids Need Diverse Children’s Books

U.S. School Children Watch President Obama’s Speech

by @alvinirby  June 19, 2015 The devaluation of black lives doesn’t happen overnight nor is the process of dehumanizing those associated with blackness limited to a single ethnic group. All over the world, we find big black men standing outside bars, nightclubs, and department stores, while their lighter-skinned relatives exercise a different, and arguably, a […]

Education Through Failure


By Felicity LuHill April 25, 2017   This week, in Edutopia, there was an article titled “Redefining Failure,” which says that educators should encourage students to try new things and fail so that students can grow and learn from their mistakes. It uses the example of bowling, a first-time bowler will learn quickly on their own […]

Band-Aids on Broken Bones: Why Sensitivity Readers Aren’t the Answer


April 19, 2017     @alvinirby I totally understand why children’s book publishers hire sensitivity readers. These cultural consultants review children’s books before they are published and offer their opinion about whether other people who share their same cultural or ethnic background might be offended by something written or depicted in the book. I am by […]

Different Method of Learning (and Reading!)


By Felicity LuHill April 17, 2017     When encouraging kids to read, it’s important to note their specific learning styles. Every child has his own way of learning and trying to make him learn through a different method can prove to be frustrating and counterproductive. When I tutored a fourth grader who was having […]

Books for African American Boys: They are not what pops into your head.

April 6, 2017 by @alvinirby Scholastic surveyed about 3,000 parents and children from different cultural backgrounds to learn about families’ reading preferences and book access. The results revealed that parents and children are not always on the same page when it comes to what kids want in a book. I travel around the country speaking […]