Books, Barbers, & Dads

The Plainfield Public Schools Office of Early Childhood has launched a new initiative designed to increase the engagement of fathers as well as improve early literacy development by creating child-friendly reading spaces at the local barbershops in Plainfield.

According to Early Childhood Director Evelyn Motley, each of the preschool centers has committed to set up and monitor the children’s libraries in barbershops that are close in proximity to their school or in barbershops where their preschool students’ dads go for haircuts.

“Providing this resource not only increases our children’s access to culturally relevant, age-appropriate children’s books,” said Motley, “but it also allows the village to get involved in promoting a love for reading.”


Kevin Hudson, owner of 3H Precision Barbershop, cuts his son’s hair (photo by Lumishka Turnbull)

Lumishka Turnbull, Early Childhood Community & Parent Involvement Specialist, said “Books, Barbers and Dads initiative also encourages fathers and other male figures from the community to be actively involved with our children’s early reading experiences.”

The Gentlemen’s Quarters at 1204 West Front Street was the first barbershop in Plainfield to open a library in collaboration with The King’s Daughters Day School. Other barbershops also agreed to collaborate with contracted preschool centers: Magical Touch, Dominick’s Barbershop, Juan’s Barbershop, 3-H Precision, New World Barbershop, The Doctor’s Office, and SC Barbershop.

Other partners in support of Plainfield’s “Books, Barbers and Dads” are Plainfield Public Schools Student and Family Support Services, United Way of Greater Union County and the Pemberton Avenue Block Association.


(Photo by Lumishka Turnbull

Barber/co owner Kevin Hudson from 3H Precision Barbershop said, “Since the Early Childhood program set up the bookshelves at my shop, the children are reading. They read while they wait their turn and some want me to cut their hair while they read. It’s a sight to see. The children love the books so much they even want to take them home” 

“Reading is a skill that will help our students from the earliest stages of their lives to beyond our schools,” said Interim Superintendent Ronald Bolandi. “Making books accessible to our children at places they most frequent is a great idea.  We are very proud of this initiative.”

This year, the books collected during the Month of April – Month of the Young Child – will be shared with the barbershops. For many years, the Office of Early Childhood has collected over 2,000 books during the month, which were distributed to the approximately 1,400 preschool students to take home and supplement their home libraries.

A list of the books and authors, approved by the Board of Education for this age group, are listed in this PDF (link), and can be found on the district’s Early Childhood website. I have also listed them below this article.

To donate books please contact the Office of Early Childhood at 908-731-4372 or please email Lumishka Turnbull at


Books featuring African American boys

Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley

The Snow Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats

Did I Tell You I Love You Today by Deloris Jordan

Abiyoyo by Pete Seeger

Daddy Calls Me Man by Angel A Johnson

When I’m Old With You by Angel A. Johnson

Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cooke

Marvelous Me – Iside and Out by Lisa Bullard

Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to be Malcolm X by Illyasah Shabazz

Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan, In Pursuit of a Dream by Deloris Jordan

If I Ran for President by Catherine Stier

Max and the Tag Along Moon by Floyd Cooper

Whose Knees Are These by Jabari Asim

Not Norman – A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett

Dizzy by Jonah Winter

I am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer

Beach Tail by Karen Lynn Williams

Sing-Along-Song by JoAnn Early Macken

A Weed Is a Flower: The Story of George Washington Carver by Aliki

When the Best was Born: DJ Kool Herc & the Creation of Hip-Hop by Laban Carrie Hill


Books in Spanish for Preschoolers

Abuela by Arthur Dorros

My Grandma by Ginger Folesong Guy

Siesta by Ginger Folesong Guy

Quinito’s Neighborhood by Ina Cumpiano

Quinto, Day and Night by Ina Cumpiano

What Can You Do With a Paleta? by Carmen Talfolla / Magaly

Que monton de Tamales! by Gary Soto, Ed Martinez, Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy

¡Pío Peep!: Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy

Oso pardo, oso pardo, ¿qué ves ahí? by Bill Martin, Jr.

Donde viven los monstruos by Maurice Sendak

De como dicen que fue hecho el mar by Mrinali Alvarez Astacio

Quiero a mi papa Porque by Laurel Porter Gaylord and Ashley Wolff

Opuestos: Mexican Folk Art Opposites in English and Spanish by Cynthia Weill

La Silla de Pedro (Spanish Edition) by Ezra Jack Keats

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