Menlo Park barbershop stocked with children's books to encourage literacy

On the outside, Sharp Images in Menlo Park has what other barbershops have to offer, a nice haircut and good conversation, but on the inside there’s so much more going on.

When you walk in you immediately hear hair tools buzzing and friends chatting, but something you wouldn’t expect to hear is the sound of little boys reading books. 

Sharp Images is only one of three Bay Area barbershops that participates in Barbershop Books, a nationwide program that puts children’s books in shops to encourage literacy for young African-American boys.

“To give back is something we got to do if we don’t who will,” said David Harper, owner of Sharp Images.

Harper said it was an easy decision to bring in the books last year, “I looked at it I was like, ‘Where do I sign up?’”
The man cave was transformed into a spot where kids feel comfortable practicing their reading and parents feel comfortable leaving their kids.
“My son is reading stuff I didn’t even know he could read, he’s saying words I didn’t even know he could pronounce and it’s all because he reads the fact that he’s encourage it here makes me want to be here more,” said mom Shaunice Prince.

For Harper, giving back to his the community doesn’t stop at the books. The Bay Area native created his own mentoring program for teens.
“Pick them up, play Fortnite, feed them and in that process be like, ‘How you doing in school?’” 

Harper is a dad and understands the value of having that kind of influence in boys lives, “Very rare do you have positive African American males who got businesses that they can relate to that’s not old wanting to talk to these kids,” he said.
For the boys at Sharp Images, they might not realize how important what Harper offers is, but they have a good time.