The Giving Tree this year is focused on placing culturally appropriate children’s books in Barbershops and Hair Salons in low income neighborhoods of Jacksonville. We are inspired by the national Barbershop Books program whose goal is to connect books to a male-centered space and involve men in boys’ early reading experiences. Statistics inspiring this effort include studies showing that 85% of black male 4th graders are not proficient in reading, and that some low-income communities have as few as one age appropriate book for every 300 children – compared to an average of 13 or more books per child for middle class white children.
For girls as well, reading for fun just once or twice a month improves students’ reading scores. For that reason we will also be placing children’s books in Hair Salons. Whereas the Barbershop Books program for boys is a pre-packaged program, we have selected 15 culturally appropriate titles for the Hair Salon program. Both sets of books will be on display near the Christmas Tree at BBUUC starting Sunday, December 4.
The Barbershop Books program sends two copies each of 15 children’s books, plus a colorful bookshelf, a window sticker and 40 “I’m A Reader” stickers to a Barbershop for $150 plus $25 shipping. The cost of buying two copies of the same books plus a similar bookshelf would be about $220. So $175 is a very good deal. We asked, and the Barbershop Books program works only with Barbershops.
Two copies each of the 15 books we have selected for Hair Salons plus a colorful bookshelf will cost just under $220, provided we make the purchase through the church to eliminate sales tax.
How can you support this program? The best way is to write a check to BBUUC or make a cash donation on Sunday beginning December 4. If writing a check, be sure to specify 2016 Giving Tree in the memo line. Delivery of the books to the Barbershops and Hair Salons will be in early January.