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Barber's haircut-story swap shows students the importance of reading

Barber's haircut-story swap shows students the importance of reading

Courtney Holmes of Dubuque, Iowa, sought a story rather than money as payment for styling hair in an effort to get kids reading, according to the Telegraph Herald.


POSTED August 27, 2015 8:49 a.m.
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An Iowa barber made a slight tweak to his business model when offering children back-to-school haircuts.

Courtney Holmes of Dubuque, Iowa, sought a story rather than money as payment for styling hair in an effort to get kids reading, according to the Telegraph Herald.

He organized the free haircuts for the community’s Back to School Bash in the city's Comiskey Park. Over the buzz of clippers and children reading from their favorite books, Holmes told the Telegraph Herald he had a simple goal.

“I just want to support kids reading,” he said.

And Holmes said his efforts to encourage the youth to enjoy reading stems from the struggles he faced as a youngster, according to The Independent.

“The only book I read as a child was the Bible, and the books we had at school,” he said. “I was not a kid that got read to at an early age.”

With two children of his own, Holmes, 45, reads a story to them every night but said he worries other children don’t receive the same support.

Corrine Kroger, Every Child, Every Promise initiative coordinator, told People magazine that Holmes’ encouragement matters because students reading at grade-level proves crucial.

“Based on statistics and data, we know that 74 percent of kids who fall behind in reading by end of third grade don’t finish high school,” Kroger said. “The criminal justice system bases their prison rates on third-grade reading scores.”

Event attendees also benefited by learning about free resources and after-school activities children can be involved in, the Telegraph Herald reported.

Holmes told USA Today he saw the line for cuts stretch far, and he knew the event — thought of as a one-time deal — might become something more, with a local salon considering starting a monthly event.

“To be honest, I was amazed,” Holmes said. “The line started with four kids, and next thing I knew, it was like 20 kids, all waiting for a haircut and eager to read.”

According to USA Today, demand for the haircut-story swap left 10 children who still needed haircuts. Holmes provided vouchers for free cuts.

But, of course, he reminded them to bring a book, fulfilling their part of the deal.
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