Barbershop helps shape young minds with reading initiative

'We want to be more of a staple in the community'

KUTZTOWN, Pa. - The City Cuts Barbershop in Kutztown is offering haircuts and, for young customers, confidence. Inside the shop, you'll spot all the barbershop essentials, but tucked away in a box is a collection of children's books.

"Soon as we got the books, we just needed the kids, and once the kids came, it just worked out perfectly," said barber Jerry Jones.

There's the typical barbershop talk, but on any given day, you'll hear something else: children reading books out loud. The shop calls it 'Books by Kids.'

"Just the courage for them to do it. I don't think I would have ever did it as a kid, no matter how much money was on the line," said shop owner John Escueta.

Escueta and Jones started this almost a year ago as a way to help build kids's reading and public speaking confidence. Even now, for both men, speaking in public is tough.

"We want the confidence to grow, so when you get to being an adult, they're not as shy... as myself," said Escueta.

"I'm the talking person, but right now, with the camera, my hands are sweating," Jones said.

The guys who work in the barbershop said if children are brave enough to sit in the seat and read a book, it doesn't matter if they want to read one line, a paragraph or a chapter, the idea is that they just get comfortable reading something.

"You may not have the confidence today, but tomorrow, you have the confidence to do it and someone looking up to him can say, 'Oh, he can do it, I can do it,'" said Jones.

The kids who read get $3 out of the deal, but also confidence. It's a lesson not taught in most barbershops, but the employees said they hope other barbershops will pick it up and not let it fade.

"We want to be more of a staple in the community," said Escueta.

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