Barbershop Books founder Alvin Irby aims to stock culturally relevant, age appropriate and gender responsive books in barbershops to get more young African-American boys reading.

Stepping into Levels Barbershop in Harlem, New York, visitors hear the sounds of buzzing clippers filling the room, a basketball game on TV blending into the background and a conversation about politics engaging all the adults in the barbershop.

It could be a scene from the popular film “Barbershop.” But there is one thing that makes Levels different. At the entrance, there is a colorful display of books designed to capture the attention of boys.

The sign above the books reads, “Barbershop Books. Well groomed. Well read.”

When Andrew Lovett, 4, and his cousin Marquez Caldwell, 5, walk into the barbershop, they each choose a children’s book from the book stand near the front door.

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Barbershops Place Books In Boys’ Hands  was originally published on

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