Entrepreneur, educator and comedian Alvin Irby delivered a talk on literacy for a TED event, in which he explores what other educators can do to inspire children to read so that they can achieve more in life.
Irby begins his talk by considering what tends to not work for kids, and how children of color continue to face institutional racism that prevents them from learning. He shows this by revealing that 85% of African American fourth grade boys are not proficient in reading, and he says that a contributing factor to this is that many teachers are not as culturally competent as they could be. This means that they might not have an understanding of what material children relate to, which can cause them to feel a lack of motivation. With this is mind, Irby created a literacy non-profit called Barbershop Books, which creates child-friendly reading spaces in barber shops. He says the idea behind this is to encourage early reading experiences in young boys.
By outlining the ways that children of color are often alienated in the classroom, Irby's talk on literacy considers the many different ways that educators and activists can support them, so that they have the role models and materials they need to develop a passion for reading that will enable them to succeed in other areas in life.