Barbershop pays children to read

Posted: 12:09 AM, Nov 20, 2016
Updated: 2016-11-20 17:25:26Z

Mary Evans, a local author and teacher often looks on Facebook for ideas to promote childhood literacy.

"Literacy is very important. You can't get far if you can't read and read well, no matter what you want to do," Evans said.

She came across a program in Michigan. At Fuller Cut Barbershop, barbers were offering kids money for reading during their haircuts. 

The idea easy enough, Evans approached Ivan LeBlanc at Look At Me Now Barbershop in Waco. Immediately, LeBlanc was on board.

"You know our kids have a hard time with literacy and we have low performing schools and in the barbershop we actually have some influence. We can get these kids to play football or anything other sport we can get them to read a book," LeBlanc said. 

When Evans, did a test run, letting an 11-year-old read her book while in the chair the young man struggled to read it aloud. Evans said this just reinforced the significance of the program. 

"Everyone could improve in reading more fluently especially the children," Evans said. She believes that reading out loud will give kids a chance to practice their comprehension and overall proficiency. 

It's been less than two weeks since LeBlanc implemented the program. Kids come in for their appointment, pick out a book and read to him. At the end of their haircut they receive $2 for participating. 

Initially, LeBlanc was going to add the extra dollars onto the cost of the kids cuts, but before he knew it he was getting support from the community. People were donating books and money to the program. People from as far as Chicago sent in books the Barbershop's collection. 

LeBlanc said in a time when people are so divided, it's important to remember the impact each individual can have on their community. 

"It shows me we can work together and fix the problems right in front of us," LeBlanc said.

Both LeBlanc and Evans just want to instill a love of reading in kids. In fact, Evans hopes the program will extend into beauty shops as well. 

"We need every barbershop doing it in Waco, in McLennan County, in Texas and the United States. There's children everywhere who could be reading," Evans said. 

If you would like to donate a book or money for the fund you can contact Ivan LeBlanc or mail books to Look at Me Now Barbershop :

Attn: Ivan LeBlanc 
2401 W. Waco Dr. Suite D
Waco, TX 76707

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