• How to Read Crown an Ode to the Fresh Cut, a modern-day story about a black boy getting a hair cut.

  • A picture book story for 2nd and 3rd grade readers.

Crown an Ode to the Fresh Cut celebrates the experiences of what it means to get a “Fresh Cut” in the barber shop. Barnes’ rhythmic language keeps the story flowing, and makes the reader understand what it truly means to get a haircut at a Black barber shop. Barnes even builds your imagination about the different characters in the shop and what they can be. This story opens the reader into another world and celebrates #Brownboyjoy.


Derrick Barnes provides a visual and auditory narrative of a young man’s visit to the barber shop. He provides details and vocabulary words that makes the story true to the story. When reading stories such as Crown an Ode to the Fresh Cut, here are some tips on how to engage with the story. This story lends itself to multiple skills. Below is a brief discussion guide.

1. Asking Questions

Keeping questions open-ended using “How, When, What, and Why. These questions can build dialogue. Example Questions: What was your favorite part? What was your least favorite? How did you feel when the boy described his experience? Describe 3 important experiences that the boy described. Why was the barber shop important to the boy?

2. Identifying Details

There are many ways to identify details. Since this story is a sequential experience. You can start by listing examples such as important words in the story. Descriptive Words slab of clay flawless blazing star intellectual Hair Words Dark Caesar trim locs cornrows.

3. Examples

Examples lend to thinking about what else happens in the real-world. What did [this scene] remind you of? Who is a tech CEO that you know? What else would you use x for? What makes you feel like a Hollywood star?

4. Imagery

The images and words rely on one another. Using the images to build understanding is a fun way to read the text in a different way. Review the colors and the images and read how you feel. Why some backgrounds have scenes and others don’t. What kind of artistic medium was used. (Watercolors, paint, crayon, etc) What mood were in on pages with the use of color. How did this page help you understand the meaning?   You can find the story here to enjoy. Please share your thoughts on this story.