A barbershop in Ypsilanti, Michigan is spreading some much-appreciated goodwill throughout Washtenaw County by offering discounts on haircuts to any child who reads aloud while getting clipped. With a wide selection of books to choose from in the shop, all of which depict positive stories and images of African-Americans, the Fuller Cut is making a difference in the lives of children and adults alike by promoting the importance and value of reading, while also providing necessary services to its customers. The families of each child who reads aloud receive a $2 dollar discount, which often ends up in the pockets of the kids who participate. Not only do the children have the chance to experience the glory of getting lost in a book, they also walk away with some cash in their pockets; it couldn’t be a more win-win for everyone involved.
Ryan Griffin, who has been a barber at The Fuller Cut for 20 years, came up with the idea to implement the plan after learning of similar programs across the country. He won’t take credit for the idea, but is happy it is having a positive impact on the community. He said with a smile, “Parents love it and the kids … well, they like getting the two dollars back. We get compliments from teachers all the time, too.” As a former teacher, lover of books and avid supporter and advocate for reading, he can add my name to the list of those offering their heartfelt praise.
With a rotation of around 75-100 books, many of which the father of three brought from his own home, he hopes to positively affect the diverse population of people who enter the shop. According to Griffin, “All our books have positive images of African-Americans — whether it’s astronauts, athletes or writers.” Without any grand gesture or marketing promotion, Griffin simply began telling his customers about the deal, which has resulted in a boom of new clients. He expressed he felt it was his responsibility to encourage the youth to read and conveyed his hope that others, upon learning of the program, will spread the word to other salons and barbershops in the surrounding areas to do the same because, as he says, “When little kids that don’t really know how to read or what’s going on see an older kid in the chair with a book and then grab a book too, that’s what’s important. Because when a kid thinks it’s cool to read, that’s a gift.” Pardon me while I swoon.
What’s even more impressive is it doesn’t just end when a child’s appointment is complete. Griffin makes sure to mark the pages where each child left off in the event they return to the shop for their next cut in order to track their progress and see if their reading comprehension has improved since their last visit and each subsequent visit thereafter. He understands many children feel extreme anxiety when called upon in class to read out loud, and maintains it’s part of his goal to help ease that apprehension by simply listening to each child in a relaxed, one-on-one setting. Grateful of the positive effect the program is having on young children now, his sights are also set on the future, saying, “If we can get kids to come back to the Fuller Cut as adults in college and they tell us, ‘Because you guys had us read here, it made me want to be a writer or journalist,’ that’s really the end goal.”
Bravo to Mr. Griffin and the Fuller Cut; a cut above, indeed.