Alvin Irby: How to inspire every child to be a lifelong reader
Whether speaking to barbers about early literacy, entertaining strangers at comedy clubs, or reading to kindergarteners at a local school, TED Resident Alvin Irby endeavors to make learning relevant and engaging. Full bio
Double-click the English transcript below to play the video.
to ensure I had good reading skills.
reading lessons at our kitchen table
didn't exactly inspire a love of reading.
read short stories and did spelling tests.
to be switched into another class.
I joined advanced English.
two book reports that semester.
between these two English classes
white people come from?"
70 percent black and Latino,
had white students everywhere.
with institutionalized racism
with reading forever.
on a school, a teacher or curriculum
than being intellectual,
other people to dictate
I had stumbled upon a key
from one reading level to another,
to memorize lists of unfamiliar words,
to identify as readers?
I taught in the Bronx,
how identity shapes learning.
I walk up to DeSean, and I say,
I'm a math genius!"
to read," he would say.
who remain trapped in illiteracy.
Department of Education,
of black male fourth graders
to reading children face,
educators need to be.
for the past eight years,
of cultural competency,
to know or be able to do
that they find relevant and engaging.
I assess an audience.
would generate the most laughter.
I could tell bar jokes.
reading experiences for children
of telling bar jokes in a church.
why so many children don't read.
should be two-way.
as empty buckets to be filled with facts
and school policies
the individual learning needs,
promoted to black boys
civil rights and biographies.
in the United States are black males.
are raised by single mothers.
who have never seen a black man reading.
encourage him to read.
what social cues are present
a young black boy to conclude
something he should do?
reading spaces in barber shops.
identify as readers.
once or twice a month.
more than they see their fathers.
to a male-centered space
and boys' early reading experiences.
recommended by black boys.
that they actually want to read.
children look for when choosing a book
black boys and other children to read
relevant male reading models
that adults love so much
like "Gross Greg".
Greg calls them delicious little sugars."
and desperately need more of that.
that plague American education
to say three words:
ABOUT THE SPEAKERAlvin Irby - Educator, comedian, social entrepreneur, author
Whether speaking to barbers about early literacy, entertaining strangers at comedy clubs, or reading to kindergarteners at a local school, TED Resident Alvin Irby endeavors to make learning relevant and engaging.
Why you should listen
Alvin Irby is a former kindergarten teacher turned social entrepreneur. He is founder and chief reading inspirer at Barbershop Books, a nonprofit organization 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.
As a cultural competency specialist, Irby trains educators and administrators to translate learning objectives for children or adults into relevant and engaging communication and experiences. Irby's nationally recognized keynotes and workshops excavate his eclectic professional and personal life to better understand and address one of American education’s greatest challenges - cultivating children’s intrinsic motivation to read.
Irby's debut children’s book, Gross Greg, combines his passion for early literacy and comedy; it is a laugh-out-loud story that captures the hilariously gross behavior of kids everywhere. His clever social commentary and astute observations shine through in his 2012 comedy album They Know Too Much. One of the highlights of Irby's comedy career was being selected as a 2015 StandUp NBC national finalist and performing at the legendary Hollywood Improv in Los Angeles, CA.
Irby holds a Masters in Childhood Education from the Bank Street Graduate School of Education, a Masters in Public Administration from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, and a Bachelors in Sociology from Grinnell College.
Alvin Irby | Speaker | TED.com