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Alexandria: Beauticians, Barbers and Books
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Alexandria: Beauticians, Barbers and Books

Literacy initiative targets youths on summer break.

Ultimate Styles Barbershop on Mt. Vernon Avenue is one of 15 participating locations in the new Beauticians, Barbers and Books literacy initiative. Kicking off the program July 5 are from left: John Porter, Councilman John Chapman, Bennie Evans, Kariem Perry, Councilman Will Bailey, Alexandria Library Director Rose Dawson, Vice Mayor Justin Wilson, Lucresha Murphy, Michael Johnson and Mac Slover.

Ultimate Styles Barbershop on Mt. Vernon Avenue is one of 15 participating locations in the new Beauticians, Barbers and Books literacy initiative. Kicking off the program July 5 are from left: John Porter, Councilman John Chapman, Bennie Evans, Kariem Perry, Councilman Will Bailey, Alexandria Library Director Rose Dawson, Vice Mayor Justin Wilson, Lucresha Murphy, Michael Johnson and Mac Slover. Photo by John Bordner

Local barber shops and beauty salons across the city have united to promote Beauticians, Barbers and Books, a new literacy initiative to encourage children to continue reading throughout the summer.

“We have placed books in 15 barber shops and beauty salons across the City of Alexandria,” said City Councilman Will Bailey, one of the architects of the program. “We believe the achievement gap begins long before the first day of kindergarten and the Beauticians, Barbers and Books literacy initiative is a way to head that off.”

When a child reads a book while waiting for a haircut or styling session at a participating location, the local barber or beautician will give them a coupon for a free Slurpee courtesy of the 7-11 Corporation.

Organizations supporting the Beauticians, Barbers and Books literacy program include Firefighters & Friends to the Rescue, Alexandria City Parks & Recs Department, Alexandria Libraries, 7-11 Corporation, ACT for Alexandria and Barnes & Noble.

“We keep receiving calls from shops that want to participate in this program so we are adding to our list of locations now,” Bailey said. “We want to place books in the hands of kids earlier and guarantee that the kids who are already in school are engaged in reading throughout the summer.”