Alvin Irby - Barber Shop Books

“I believe that reading and education, really expand people’s realm of possibility”


Founder of Barbershop Books. School Teacher. Reading Identifier. Author. TED Speaker. Comedian. Crocheter. Cultural Competency Specialist. Social Entrepreneur.


They say that laughter is the best medicine. We know that laughter is also contagious and that there is nothing better than an a good ‘ol belly laugh, which makes you roll on the floor! A good laugh gives a great stomach workout which 1,000 sit-ups could never accomplish. Laughter is best enjoyed together!!


Our guest this week, Alvin Irby, is one seriously funny dude. He likes to make fun of real life situations and uses humour as a gateway to tackle serious issues. Alvin is an incredibly kind and sincere man, who is making a big impact on many young boys lives.


Alvin, grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, with his siblings and they were all raised by their Mom. His Mom was a school teacher and his dad owned a Barbershop. The influence of these would only become apparent later on in his life.

Alvin, enjoyed playing outdoors like most young kids do, he also loved a good game of Monopoly. However, the most enjoyment he found as a youngster came from an unlikely source, crocheting!! He wasn’t a big reader himself, but found it interesting while at school and one day asked his teacher to send him to the advanced reading class, so he could stem his boredom and learn more. To his surprise and dismay, he found out that most of the kids in this class were reading novels and writing book reports and…..they were white……


His business, Barbershop Books, provides a selection of 15 appropriately researched books in Barbershops, which cater for 4-8 year old, young black and other boys of colour, who frequent them. They also provide basic literacy training for all barbers and together their mission is to help these boys “identify themselves as readers”.


Alvin is a man of many talents and has written his own children’s book called, Gross Greg. Alvin has also given a TED Talk, which was featured by TED and has been seen by over 850,000 people just on the TED website alone. To top it all off, he is a comedian who performs at well known establishments like Gotham Comedy Club in New York City.


We had so much fun chatting with Alvin and trust this is going to give you some sore tummy muscles as a result of listening! Among many things, we speak about TSA Agents sense of humour, Bill Cosby’s demise, how comedians are pretty nerdy, the untapped potential inside us all, cultural competency and of course Barbershop Books.


We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did.


Let’s find out – what it means for Alvin Irby, to be Ridiculously Human.


Your fellow beings

Craig and Gareth


Background, Context & Reference

Connect with Alvin Irby:








Check out Barbershop Books:







Alvin’s book: Gross Greg

Alvin’s TED Talk

Alvin Irby Crocheting

Other relevant points discussed and mentioned:

TSA – Transport Security Administration

Bank Street College of Education

#Metoo movement

Monopoly Board Game

Barnes and Noble

Reading Holiday Project

Scholastic – survey company

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole


Gotham Comedy Club in New York

People Discussed:

Stevie Wonder

Bill Cosby

Richard Pryor

Greer Barnes – His favourite comedian

Mike Yard – Comedian

Trevor Noah

Angelo Lozada – Warm up Comic for Trevor Noah show

Barack Obama

Kevin Ntukula – Gross Greg Illustrator

Places Mentioned:

Maryland, United States

Chicago, United States

The Bronx, New York

Harlem, New York

Greenwich, London

Sydney, Australia


Music By

The Bambuseae Rhythm Section – Check them out here


Right Hook Request


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