‘Barbershop Books’- Right up Michael Jackson’s Alley –

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 3.59.05 PMIn honor #WorldBookDay -we’re highlighting an article we thought would inspire MJGlobal family, as we was know how dedicated Michael Jackosn was to gaining knowledge and promoted reading as a way to acquire a broader view of the world.  Below are excerpts from an Article entitled “Getting African-American Boys to Read”

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 2.50.01 PMexcerpts from Barbershop Books article –  

“Many young black males don’t see reading as part of their identity, one NYC educator believes. Haircut by haircut, he’s trying to fix that.

When Alvin Irby was teaching kindergarten and first grade in Harlem and the Bronx, he saw that many of his students—especially African American boys—needed new associations around books. Statistically, those boys are the most reluctant when it comes to reading—and lag more in test scores. ”

“I’m developing this theory that a lot of young black males simply don’t associate books with their identity,” says Irby. “Fathers are missing from a lot of black children’s early reading experiences. There aren’t many black male teachers, either.”

That’s how Barbershop Books was born. Irby, now just a few weeks away from a master’s degree in public administration from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service, had a simple idea: Go to neighborhood barbershops that African American families visit on a regular basis. Set up a shelf of children’s books specially selected to appeal to young boys (action-packed, culturally relatable, and led by male characters). Get the barbers to encourage boys to pick up “No, David!” or “Calling All Cars!” while they wait for their haircut, or even once they’re in the chair.

Even if the book is a little above or below the kid’s reading level, and even if there’s not an adult sitting next to him as he reads, boys are still making an implicit link between reading and barbershops—which are cultural hubs in New York City’s African American communities. The bit of encouragement from the barber, most often an older black man, is essential too.

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So far, Irby has six barbershops set up in Harlem and Brooklyn. He’s looking to expand to 25 by September, with the help of $5,000 that he and a team of other NYU students won for Barbershop Books, as finalists in UPenn’s Fels Public Policy Challenge. He’s looking for additional funding for the project while fielding calls from people in other cities who want books with their haircuts, too.

Read full article: Barbershop Books 

Alvin Irby points out that role models are much needed to encourage young black boys to identify themselves with reading. Michael credits Rose Fine, his tutor, as being his role model. She taught him and his brothers during Jackson5 tours and he considered her like a second mother. 

“We traveled with a wonderful tutor, Rose Fine, who taught us a great deal and made sure we did our lessons. It was Rose who instilled in me a love of books and literature that sustains me today. I read everything I could get my hands on. New cities meant new places to shop. We loved to shop, especially in bookstores and department stores”

“I love to read. I wish I could advise more people to read. There’s a whole other world in books. If you can’t afford to travel, you travel mentally through reading. You can see anything and go anyplace you want by reading.”  Moonwalk

Knowing he had great following Michael was dedicated to being a role model himself. In January 1979, Michael Jackson donated an unspecified number of books, including Peter Pan to the Chicago Public Library’s, Young Adult Section and promotes reading through a library program called Boogie to the Book Beat.

“Role Models are key to a child’s development. As with those little people I saw happily skipping into the library to pick out books, each was led by a significant adult…one who not only expressed the joy of reading…but, showed it. Bedtime stories give children the gift of a lifetime. Michael was moved to include reading to children as part of the CHILDREN’S UNIVERSAL BILL OF RIGHTS in his Oxford Address for the Heal the Kids Initiative…rededicating all of us to the wonder of childhood.” Jude Ling

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Michael Jackson was self-educated and driven with his own fire to learn. The media never really did any sort of research regarding that part of his character and it would not have jived with the mischaracterization they wanted to put forth.  In a 1984 Ebony Interview. Wesley Snipes began to speak on Michael, his voracious reading and world knowledge – something the media would never report –

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His attorney Robert Sanger also has spoken in depth publicly about Michael’s incredible knowledge:

“… We stand up and the judge leaves, and Michael turns to me and says, “Bob, the jury system is much older than 200 years, isn’t it?’ I said, ‘Well, yeah, it goes back to the Greeks.’ He says, ‘Oh yeah, Socrates had a jury trial, didn’t he?’ I said, ‘Yeah, well, you know how it turned out for him.’ Michael says, ‘Yeah, he had to drink the hemlock.’ That’s just one little tidbit. We talked about psychology, Freud and Jung, Hawthorne, sociology, black history and sociology dealing with race issues. But he was very well read in the classics of psychology and history and literature.”

To further illuminate this issue we only have to look at Michael Jackson expansive Neverland Library which held over 10,000 volumes – Picture from Libraries to Top All Libraries.

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What others say about one of Michael’s favorite books, Jonathan Livingstone Seagull:

One of the things he always told me was, Don’t be afraid to be different. In other words, when you have that desire, that drive, people are going to try to pull you away from that, and pull you closer to the pack to be “normal.” And he was saying, It’s O.K. to be that driven; it’s O.K. to be obsessed with what you want to do. That’s perfectly fine. Don’t be afraid to not deviate from that. One of the books that he gave me that helped him communicate with me was Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which was about that.”              Kobe Bryant

“I remember when you read Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach all the way through in one sitting at Disney World. Thank you for always being there for me and for teaching me to believe in dreams! We miss you..Happy birthday!” Anthony Jackson

“One of the books Michael told me to read on the trip was Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Jonathan, out of all the seagulls saw that here was more to life than just being a seagull – more than what was right in front of him. Michael wanted to live that way – to fly beyond all expectations, to live an extraordinary life. He instilled that ambition in me, often asking me, “Do you want to be Jonathan, or one of the other birds? 

And on gainging knowledge:

“On weekends in the city, we often went to the movies or comic book stores, but what I remember most fondly about those visits was that Michael introduced me to the joys of books. I was dyslexic, and reading had always been tough for me, but when I complained that I didn’t like to read, he said, “Well, then you will be dumb and ignorant for the rest of your life. Frank, you can do anything you want in this world, but if you don’t have knowledge, you are nothing. If I gave you a million dollars right now, would you take it? Or would you want to have the knowledge of how to make that million on your own?”

I knew the correct answer to this question. “I’ll take the knowledge.”

“That’s right. Because with knowledge you can make the first million into two.” Frank Cascio

It’s clear that being a role model to a young boy who may not have a father around to instill that desire to read is most desirable and thankfully for many, Michael was took on that important role.

So today in honor of  #WorldBookDay … We ask you to make it a point to  encourage young people to read – Volunteer at an Elementary School reading program or in your local Library – And  most importantly donate to endeavors that encourage reading like Alvin Irvy’s Barbershop Books.

Donate to Barbershop Books 


Donate to Barbershop Books http://readingholidayproject.org



Libraries to Top All Libraries

Getting African-American Boys to Read With ‘Barbershop Books’




http://EconomicPolicyJournal.com : Michael Jackson “Extremely Well-Read,” Had 10,000 … http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2014/08/michael-jackson-extremely-well-read-had.html?spref=tw … #WorldBookDay

This entry was posted in BOOKS, Charity of the Month, In His Words, Michael News, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to ‘Barbershop Books’- Right up Michael Jackson’s Alley –

  1. corlista1 says:

    Wonderful article. I remember Michael saying once that his mind was a library. What a perfect description of his acute intelligence and awareness.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very very true. Michael was an Intellectual but his connection to pop, which is falsely considered as superficial, didn’t let people see this. But he was. Anyway kisses and thanks for the article ♥

    Liked by 1 person

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