News Release, Charles County Public Schools

With the restrictions put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19, there have been causalities among some programs and activities.

Barbershop Books, an initiative focused on getting books into the hands of young Black boys between the ages of 4 to 8, has had to rethink its approach. Traditionally, books that appeal to young boys are housed in area barbershops on a designated book shelf. Kids waiting to get a haircut or who are tagging along with an adult can select a book, and if they like it, they get to keep it. Now with barbershops and other businesses operating under COVID-19 influenced restrictions, the bookshelves are off limits.

Third grader Ayoolu Tugbobo is excited to get a new book during a recent stop at a meal site.

Through its partnership with the Title I office of Charles County Public Schools (CCPS), Barbershop Books is still making sure any child who wants a book, gets one. Title I staff are visiting CCPS meal sites around the county to hand out books for primary and intermediate readers as long as supplies last. The new books, supplied by Barbershop Books, include titles like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” by Jeff Kinney, “No David!,” by David Shannon and “Not Norman,” by Kelly Bennett.

“We want to ensure our students are keeping up their academic knowledge over the summer,” Arin Bonner, Title I coordinator, said. Even if a child is not reading yet, Bonner asks parents to read the books to them and engage in conversation about the story.

New books are being handed out at meal sites to primary and intermediate readers while supplies last. The Title I office of Charles County Public Schools works with nonprofit Barbershop Books to ensure young children are reading.

Leslie Smallwood, the parent liaison at Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School, is a fan of the Barbershop Books program and is glad organizers are continuing to give books to kids, even if the delivery method has changed for the time being. “I love it,” Smallwood said. “When the kids were here, they always were so excited to tell you about the books they’re reading.”