Barbershop Books Encourages Young Men To Foster A Love Of The Written Word
New York Jets player Jarvis Jenkins hung up his cleats to pick up a book in order to show a group of Harlem kids the importance of reading.
The defensive end was at the International Barbershop on Malcolm X Boulevard in New York City’s uptown neighborhood Sept. 27, where he read the children’s book “The Adventures of Captain Underpants,” to students from nearby Alain L. Locke Magnet School For Environmental Stewardship. The Clemson alum also donated a mini library of children’s books to the shop.
“The main thing I want to do is tackle literacy,” the athlete turned reading advocate told BOSSIP. “There’s more to life than just Instagram. There’s more to life than just Facebook. I wanted to give them a platform where they can learn, and still have fun.”
Jenkins, who has been in the NFL for six years, said he wanted the kids to see that reading outside of school was fun, and that they should take advantage of their idle time waiting to get their hair cut by reading for pleasure.
“When I used to go to barbershops with my dad, I used to bring a toy,” Jenkins said. “I used to bring a Game Boy and sit there. When you’re sitting there with this free time, why not pick up a book?”
Nonprofit Barbershop Books helps kids – especially young boys – become more active readers by creating reading spaces inside local barbershops, founder Alvin Irby told BOSSIP.
“We’re increasing boys’ access to engaging books, and we’re increasing the amount of time boys are reading outside school,” Irby, who has his own children’s book Gross Greg coming out next month, said.
Following the read aloud, Jenkins also gave the kids a few life lessons, but not before lacing the budding readers with some Jets swag.
“It took my dad to stay on me to understand education is important,” the South Carolina native, 28, told the children. “You can go far in life, but make sure you get your education. Education is key.”
Jenkins’ read aloud was a hit for student Mia Garcia, 7, who said she was already an avid bookworm.
“I liked that we got to read a book because I love it when people read books to me,” the little girl said. “It’s gonna make me want to read more because I love reading and it’s fun.”