Mayor James hopes reading program encourages dads to spend more time with kids

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Time spent waiting for a haircut could be valuable. Kansas City’s mayor is promoting a program encouraging fathers to spend time reading to their children with free childrens’ books in some area barber shops.

Dads in Kansas City — pick up a book and spend some time with your kids. That’s the message from Mayor Sly James, who is sponsoring a program called Dads Turn the Page.

Neighborhood barbershops, like 180-V Salon at 18th and Vine, is where it begins.

For two years as salon owner, Joey Thomas has watched inner-city fathers and their children wait for haircuts. His barbershop is one of several now offering free childrens’ books to anyone who wants to read to kids.

“In this community, other communities, you gotta know how to read to survive in America,” Thomas said. “It conveys love and togetherness and a lot of other things.”

All of the Kansas City Public Library’s programs for kids go through Crystal Faris. She says the library believes in Mayor James’  idea so much, library leaders donated one thousand books.

“If more books are around them, through the library or the barbershop, through their home, they become more likely to self-identify as readers,” Faris said.

Mayor James says Dads Turn the Page is also a means of simply encouraging fathers to spend time with their kids. That’s something Nick Terhune has no problem doing. We found him reading to his eight-year old daughter Riley at the Downtown Branch of the Kansas City Public Library.

“Learning to read opens up so many doors to educate themselves and learn about what they want to learn about,” Terhune said.

The Dads Turn the Page website says only 38 percent of third-graders in Kansas City, Missouri read at or above their grade level. One district checks in at only 18 percent.

The program’s website encourages fathers to tweet photos of themselves reading to their kids to Instagram and Twitter. Mayor James says one winner will be chosen each month, and rewarded with Kansas City Royals baseball tickets.

Here’s a link to the Dads Turn the Page website.

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