Reading is an important tool in the development of young minds. Not only does it help hone language skills, but it can help youngsters explore the realms of their own imaginations. One barbershop in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, has garnered praise after paying their young customers to read aloud during their cuts. According to CNN, City Cuts is a busy shop that's always alive with the sound of chatter and kids reading lines of their favorite books.
Owner Jon Escueta founded the program, calling it "Books by Kids." He aims to encourage children to gain confidence in speaking in front of other people in a place where they feel safe and respected. Each child gets $3 dollars for reading aloud, which is covered by donations from the local community. Escueta initially put $50 of his own money into the project to help it get off the ground. While interest was slow at first, things quickly picked up after he uploaded a video of the program in action. The clip went viral on Facebook, gaining over 138,000 likes and 11,000 comments.
“Books By Kids” Our goal is for kids to build their confidence up by reading in front of others while getting a haircut. Plus they will receive $3 for reading while in the chair. About 75% of Adults fear Public Speaking.Posted by City Cuts Barbershop on Friday, October 5, 2018
The kindhearted barber has a special interest in the English language, after immigrating from the Philippines when he was just eight years old. With no knowledge of any language other than his own, it was tricky for the youngster to communicate with others, which knocked his confidence. Speaking to CNN, he said that he often felt judged for not knowing how to speak English well.
Escueta hopes to take his own experiences and help others like him, as well as shy children who don't like talking in front of people they don't know. With the Books for Kids program in full swing, the 32-year-old is making an impact that matters. He credits his 7th-grade teacher for giving him the idea, as he struggled with reading in school. When Escueta told him that he didn't like reading but he liked basketball, the teacher combined the two and presented the youngster with a book on the subject.
Patrons have already started noticing the effects of the program, with one young boy, Connor, coming on leaps and bounds. The monetary incentive helps too, as coupled with his birthday money, Connor was able to buy a hoverboard. The shop has also set up a GoFundMe page to help keep the incredible work afloat.