Youngblood places books in Northwest Philly barbershops to combat illiteracy
When she was writing her first children’s book, Daphne Brooks dreamed of being able to walk into a bookstore and see her hard work displayed on the shelf.
Last week, she strolled into The Proper Image Barbershop on W. Chelten Avenue and placed her book on a stand next to the appointment calendar and $3 cheesecake slices.
“This is a real honor,” said the Nicetown native, as her daughter snapped photos of the barbers shaving a couple customers.
Brooks helped kick off a new program dubbed Books to Barbers, an initiative to promote literacy throughout Northwest Philadelphia. Launched by state Rep. Rosita Youngblood, the campaign provides donated books to barbershops for children to read while waiting for a trim.
“If you can’t read, you can’t be successful in life,” said Youngblood, who wants to duplicate the success of a similar program in New York.
“This is also an opportunity to let folks know that we have authors within our own community,” Youngblood said.
Brooks’ book, “Kennedy’s Big Visit,” follows the relationship between a daughter and her father while he is incarcerated. It will be the first in a series focusing on absentee fathers, said Brooks, who based the story on real life experiences between her daughter, Kennedy, and her stepdad.
“They had a very close relationship because I continued to take her up to see him,” Brooks said. “Parents need to know the importance of keeping a presence in your child’s life.”
Brooks wasn’t the only local author involved. Spencer “Pete” Sullivan, the unofficial spokesman of Proper Image, held up his wife’s book, “A Momma’s Nightmare,” a true story about her experiences with molestation and how she overcame that with her own daughter.
“It’s a great read, one of strength and victory,” said Sullivan, who has been cutting hair for 30 years. “We have to push and motivate our children, and reading is the best way to do that.”
Darryl Thomas, owner of another barbershop called Philly Cuts at 44th and Chestnut Streets, said his shop and hopefully many more in the city will participate in the effort.
“Barbershops are watering wells for the community,” Thomas said. “It’s a start, it’s a step toward a cure for illiteracy.”
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