This story originally appeared on Houston Public Media.
College junior George Woods recently got a trim for summer. But while his barber was tapering the sides of his hair, Woods was doing something else.
He read the beginning of Barack Obama’sDreams from My Father.
Woods found the memoir on a bookshelf at Main Event Barber Studio in Spring, north of Houston.
He had never seen books at a barbershop before.
“That’s probably why I went to look for it — something to do while I’m getting a haircut,” he said.
This initiative in Spring is a push to keep kids reading over the summer — but to let them do that in a space that’s familiar, and on their own terms.
“We’re kind of putting books from our library into the community,” said Khechara Bradford, who directs elementary English arts for the Spring Independent School District.
The new program is called “Books in Barbershops.” They gathered hundreds of donated books from local businesses.
Bradford got the idea from a similar initiativein New York. And in California the Clinton Foundation is funding books in laundromats.
In Spring, Bradford said that they want to reach more male readers.
“A lot of young boys form their identities in barbershops and they really have father figures sometimes in their barbers, so that as they’re forming their identity and who they are, that books can be part of that,” Bradford said.
Her coworker Ashley Jenkins hunted for books that would grab their attention.
“I put books in there that have to do with cars, racing, science, bugs. There’s also a book in there about the history of farting. I know young boys like that kind of stuff,” Jenkins said.
Andre Lewis, who’s owned Main Event Barber Studio for the last nine years, said that he wanted to help kids return to school at the top of their game.
“Usually they watch TV, but now since we have the books a lot of kids are picking up the books and reading while they wait for their haircuts,” Lewis said.
“I just feel like we’re doing our jobs to help the kids keep their minds ready,” he added.
Some boys who visit still just watch TV or play on their phone.
But 10-year-old Braelynn Pierre did check out a comic book after he got a mohawk.
“My book is about Garfield having a lot of fun,” he said, as he started to read.
Administrators with Spring ISD want to keep the program going after summer and expand to more barbershops.
For more information about the program, or to donate books, call Spring ISD at 281-891-6019.