Iowa Barber Lets Kids Pay for Haircuts By Reading Books

As the summer holidays come to a close, kids need to get back into the academic mindset – and they want to look fresh for their friends.


Courtney Holmes gives out free haircuts to kids and only asks that they read to him in exchange. (Photo: Mike Burley/Telegraph Herald via AP)

Courtney Holmes, a barber from Dubuque, Iowa, helps them on their way in more ways than one.

During the annual Back-to-School Bash in Comiskey Park, an event that helps families prepare for the looming school year ahead, Holmes set up a booth offering children free haircuts and requesting only that they read to him in return.

“The kids would come in, and I would say, ‘Go to the table and get a book you might like, and if you can’t read it, I’ll help you understand and we can read it together,’” Holmes told USA Today.

What started with only a few kids gathered around, ended with a line of 20-plus grade-schoolers patiently waiting for their back-to-school trims, books in hand. In fact, Holmes’ makeshift salon drew so much attention that when the event ended, there were still several children waiting for a cut.

Holmes handed out vouchers to those who remained, inviting them to come to Spark Family Hair, the salon where he regularly works, ready to read in exchange for a free haircut.

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“We don’t have books at the salon, so I’m bringing books from my house, and people have started sending me free books,” Holmes said.

Spark Family Hair is so excited by the idea, it is considering offering complimentary cuts on a monthly basis, to children who are eager to read and want to look good doing it.

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