How a Haircut is Increasing Children's Literacy in Michigan

Fuller Cut raises kids' confidence one head at a time

(Joshua Resnick /

When children go to the Fuller Cut barber shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, they leave with a nice hair cut and a big boost in confidence regarding their reading skills. Stylist Ryan Griffin and the rest of the staff offer discounts on haircuts if children read aloud while barbers work their magic. Griffin heard about a similar idea in New York, where many barbershops in Harlem provide “mini libraries” for children so they are able to read as they wait. And so far, the literacy initiative is working.

Inspired by this idea, the father of three started taking old books he had lying around the house with him to work. “And that’s just how it started. It wasn’t anything grand. I just wanted to be responsible,” he said. “I hope people reading this and feel the same way go to their barbershop or beauty salons and tell them about this program as well.”

Both parents and children love the Fuller Cut library, which today is filled with books that send positive messages about African American culture. Reading materials range from Taye Digg’s Chocolate Me to Who Is Barack Obama? By Roberta Edwards. Regardless of skill level, all children are encouraged to read aloud. “For some kids, reading comes easy. For others, they may be afraid to read out loud, or they may struggle with reading in general,” Griffin said. And improving kids' reading skills isn’t even the best part of the library. Another huge bonus is that children feel empowered and develop a love for their community - and for many kids, that all begins in a barber chair.

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