CAPTION ONE: Aurielle, 5, reads a book at Hair on the Floor barbershop as part of its “Read With My Barber” program.
CAPTION TWO: Jenetta Thomas and Reginald England
Barbershop inspires young readers as literacy program partner
COVINGTON, Ky. – The buzz of razors and friendly banter between barber and client are barbershop staples, and the atmosphere at Hair on the Floor barbershop at 2603 Madison Ave. is no exception.
What might seem out of place, however, is the bookshelf filled with children’s books and the bright red baskets of toys and treats.
For neighborhood children, those books will be a regular barbershop feature that – through a partnership with the City’s Read Ready Covington early literacy initiative – encourages and rewards reading.
They’re part of an effort by Jenetta Thomas, the barbershop’s operation manager, that’s called “Read With My Barber.”
“We’ve all heard that reading is foundational to life success, and Hair on the Floor barbers and Jenetta are modeling a deep value for reading, both as strong role models and by providing access to diverse literature through the program,” said MaryKay Connolly, director of Read Ready Covington.
The idea came about when Thomas and Connolly met earlier in the summer at a health fair. Connolly told Thomas she’d heard about a barbershop that created a reading program for the children. Thomas was inspired.
“We’re very family friendly,” Thomas said. “We’ve had kids that have grown up coming to this shop. They’ll come in for their first haircut when they’re 3 or 4 years old, and now they’re 7 or 8.”
Thomas placed a bookshelf in the barbershop, which is owned by barber Reginald England. Books soon became available through a collaboration with Read Ready Covington and several of its partners – Learning Grove early learning center and the Kenton County Public Library – with help from a federal Family Engagement grant through the National Center for Families Learning.
How it works: Children select a book to read to their barber during their haircut or while they wait as their parent gets a trim. After reading, they fill out a raffle ticket to enter a monthly drawing for a basket brimming with prizes. Children also are encouraged to take the book home to read with family and friends.
“Even the kids who don’t win one of the baskets can get a treat out of the treasure chest we have here,” said Thomas. “We want to make sure that everyone gets something for reading.”
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