ATLANTIC CITY — In an effort to promote youth literacy in the city, the public library started a program that’s bringing books to barbershops.
The program, called Fade to Books, is an effort that’s getting children younger than 12 to focus on reading while waiting for a haircut, said Wendell Cherry, a reference librarian and director of the program.
“Reading is so important in the development of a child’s academic life,” Cherry said.
The program began with inspiration from the New Jersey State Library’s partnership with the Long Branch Public Library and the Bridge of Books Foundation. Grants became available to libraries around the state to implement the program in local libraries, and the city jumped in.
As part of the program, barbers encourage children who come into the shops to sit and read while they wait. The children can also bring the books home, Wendell said.
The program was fully implemented by the winter, Cherry said.
Three Atlantic City barbershops are participating in the project so far: Just Cutt’n Up at 528 Atlantic Ave., Casino City Barber and Salon at 1724 Atlantic Ave., and Wally’s Barbershop at 3911 Ventnor Ave.
“I know the amount of time that young people spend in barbershops,” Cherry said. “You go to a barbershop and could spend 40 minutes, 45 minutes waiting to get your hair cut.”
Javier Ulloa, the manager at Wally’s Barbershop, said when they were approached about bringing in the program, he thought it would be a good fit. He said kids who come into his shop have used the books while they wait for a haircut.
“It’s good for us when we see them leave their tablets or their phones and grab a book,” he said. “We thought it would be a good idea for the kids.”
Cherry said the library is open to more barbershops participating in the program.