The Haircut Story

Courtney Holmes, right, listens to Jeremiah Reddick, 9, of Dubuque, as he reads while receiving a free haircut during the Back to School Bash in Comiskey Park, in Dubuque, Iowa. (Mike Burley/Telegraph Herald via AP)

Courtney Holmes, right, listens to Jeremiah Reddick, 9, of Dubuque, as he reads while receiving a free haircut during the Back to School Bash in Comiskey Park, in Dubuque, Iowa. (Mike Burley/Telegraph Herald via AP)

First day of school is round the corner and now is a time of frenzied preparation for the big day. And haircuts figure in the list of things-to-do. Precisely what Dubuque barber Courtney Holmes figured, too, as he headed to the neighborhood Back to School bash. Just that he thought he’d go beyond the hair and pack in some story time. No, he didn’t tell stories off the back of his head, but he let his little customers read to him. Talk about taking matters of literacy into your own hands and being there for your community right where they need you.

There wasn’t any small talk between Courtney Holmes and the clients who sat in his barber chair on Saturday.

Instead, children from kindergartners to fifth-graders read books to Holmes in exchange for a free back-to-school haircut. Some children breezed through their book and reached for another, while others stumbled on words.

“The kids would come in, and I would say, “Go to the table and get a book you might like, and if you can’t read it, I’ll help you understand and we can read it together,” Holmes, of Dubuque, Iowa, told USA TODAY Network.

Saturday’s event featured a number of nonprofits and community groups, including a youth enrichment program that gave away books — some of which were read to Holmes, according to the Associated Press. Holmes’s initiative, which took place at Spark Family Hair Salon, led to a partnership with the My Brother’s Keeper program and the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque to further promote early literacy, the salon shared in a Facebook post.

“It’s great. All the kids, they want to have a good haircut to go back to school,” said Caitlin Daniels, a grade-level reading coordinator in Dubuque, according to the Associated Press. “They’re paying through reading.”

Read more of this fair trade here.

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