Ypsilanti, Mich (ABC NEWS) — Some kids in Michigan are encouraged to do a little reading aloud while getting their hair cut. If they do, they’ll get $2 off.
Parents are celebrating not only because of the discounted prices but also because they also love that their children are reading outside of the classroom.
Ryan Griffin told ABC News that he launched this idea at The Fuller Cut in Ypsilanti, Michigan, after reading about similar barbershops doing the same thing in places like New York City and Tampa. The barber said he couldn’t ignore the idea once it hit him.
“I swear to you, I know it sounds simplistic but it hit me like a rock. It was so responsible! [I said to myself,] ‘I have to do something,'” Griffin, 44, recalled. “It was a responsible thing to do in the community.”
He launched the program on Aug. 18, 2015, and since then, Griffin has accumulated nearly 100 books. But they have to be a certain type of book for his customers, who are largely African-American or bi-racial.
“One thing I said I would never comprise is that they have to be all positive African-American books,” Griffin said. “I want kids to pick up something that looks like them and that’s a positive story about them.”
Griffin added that he hopes the children will pick up a book and say, “‘There’s a kid on this book that looks just like me, with hair that looks like mine.”
The barber added that since the program launched, the children have been enthusiastic.
“Oh, they love it,” Griffin gushed. “We have some kids that come in with their own books because they’ve been in the program for so long now. But you have some kids that are reluctant … and we just suggest it. Sometimes kids ask, ‘Do I have to read today?’ I say, ‘No, only if you want to.'”
Griffin added that the parents also love the program because it reinforces the message that reading is beneficial.
For him personally, he’s learned that everyone in the community can help in their own way.
“You can’t worry that what you’re doing for somebody else is enough because you never know how it’ll affect someone else,” Griffin said. “There’s no such thing as I’m doing just a little thing. Here, I can see it. I can see that I’m helping a kid who’s having trouble reading.
“We can break the ice here. If we can get that kid comfortable [reading] here, then he can go to school with just a little more confidence,” Griffin added.