Alvin Irby - Small Windows and Broken Mirrors: Cultivating the reading identity of Black Boys during an age of wokeness

In this session, award-winning social entrepreneur, educator, and comedian Alvin Irby explores ideas for helping Black boys identify as readers and for increasing out-of-school time reading among Black boys.

Due to COVID-19, distance learning and virtual programming have become the new norm for many library systems and school districts. With less in-person access to educators and librarians, vulnerable child populations such as Black boys face severely limited book access and a potentially devastating lack of academic support.

In this session, award-winning social entrepreneur, educator, and comedian Alvin Irby explores ideas for helping Black boys identify as readers and for increasing out-of-school time reading among Black boys. As the Founder and Chief Reading Inspirer at Barbershop Books, a nationally recognized literacy program, Irby has raised awareness about the important of same-sex reading role models and child-centered reading experiences.

Attendees will learn strategies for increasing Black boys' intrinsic motivation to read and explore common barriers to reading success among Black boys.


We built this conference to teach you all the tactics and strategies that you need to build support for funding your library.

Alvin Irby is a former kindergarten teacher turned award-winning social entrepreneur, international speaker, comedian, and author. He is Founder and Chief Reading Inspirer at Barbershop Books, a literacy program that creates child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops and provides early literacy training to barbers. His work connecting reading to male-centered spaces and involving men in boys’ early reading experiences earned him the National Book Foundation’s 2017 Innovations in Reading Prize. Irby’s popular TED Talk "How to inspire every child to be a lifelong reader," has been viewed over 1 million times.

Irby’s nationally-recognized keynotes and workshops have been described as informative, inspiring, engaging, and humorous. Irby helps educators, librarians, and system leaders better understand and address the systemic and personal challenges that inhibit children’s intrinsic motivation to read and learn. His debut children’s book, Gross Greg, combines Irby’s passion for early literacy and humor. Gross Greg is a laugh-out-loud story that captures the hilariously gross behavior of kids everywhere.

Alvin Irby holds a Masters of Science (MS) in Childhood Education from Bank Street Graduate School of Education, a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, and a Bachelors of Arts (BA) in Sociology.

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