Like all good barbers, Courtney Holmes is a good listener.
But at a recent back-to-school event in Dubuque, Iowa, the small talk was a little bit different.
His young clients — whose feet barely grazed the floor — were preparing for the upcoming school year, and Holmes decided to offer his hair cutting services for free.
There was only one catch — each child would have to read him a story.
“I think it’s important that kids should read,” said Holmes, who has two young boys of his own.
Holmes started “Tales 4 Trims” to help improve the reading skills of children in his neighborhood, and the salon where he rents a chair, Spark Family Salon, now plans to hold events regularly.
“Most kids, they feel relaxed, they know they can come to a place that’s safe,” he said. “And their parents love it.”
Holmes tries to encourage the kids to do more than just read and sound out words —he wants them to understand and learn from the books.
“Their memory is being challenged,” he said. At the end of each hair cut he asks, “What is this book about?”
“Trims 4 Tales” also sends each child home with a bag of books, encouraging them to keep reading until their next visit — which Holmes hopes will be very soon.
“The joy on their face — it makes me feel like a million bucks just to see that,” he said.