A 28-year-old barber is combing kids’ hair and encouraging them to comb through pages of a book while he does it.
Jermaine Scott began cutting hair at Ligons Barbership in Madison, Tennessee, about a year ago when he noticed something about the kids sitting in his chair.
“When kids would come to the barbershop they were glued to tablets and cell phones,” Scott said. “It was hard to cut their hair when they were focused on that.”
Scott came up with a solution and started “Barbershop Books Day,” where every Thursday kids could come in and get a discounted haircut. The catch? They had to be reading a book while they got it.
“Education, comprehension, literacy – if you don’t learn those key things you’ll never be able to really live in this society. You have to educate yourself,” Scott said. “I want to make school cool again.”
“Barbershop Books Day” wasn’t only created to help the kids, but also the parents. Scott says Madison has a large number of low-income housing and that many are focused on just keeping their lights on. For people in this community, paying $15 for a haircut per kid can be difficult and the discount can help out in a huge way.
Scott began his initiative by checking out five library books and putting them near his chair. When a local news station caught wind, Scott says book donations began pouring in. Among them was one from country legend Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
“Growing up and knowing about Dollywood and Dolly Parton, I’m overwhelmed with receiving the donation from her,” Scott said.
Scott says he hopes to expand his “Barbershop Book Days” to an “Ice Breaker Book Tour” where his goal will be getting kids excited to learn while also giving them positive role models through motivational speakers.
“We need some positive role models,” Scott said. “I’m cool, I’m young, if I step outside my comfort zone and tell them that school is cool hopefully it will steer them in the right direction.”