Alvin Irby is a former kindergarten teacher turned award-winning social entrepreneur, national 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 leads cultural competency training across the United States, helping school districts, library systems, colleges/universities, and education organizations create learning experiences that are relevant and engaging. His nationally-recognized keynotes and workshops help educators better understand and address one of American education’s greatest challenges – cultivating children’s intrinsic motivation to read and learn. Irby’s debut children’s book, Gross Greg, combines his passion for early literacy and humor. Gross Greg is a laugh-out-loud story that captures the hilariously gross behavior of kids everywhere.
As a stand up comedian, Irby’s fresh perspective and smart brand of humor shine through in his 2018 comedy album “Really Dense.” His clever social commentary and humorous observations have not gone unnoticed. Irby won the Clean Comedy Showcase at the 2019 San Diego Comedy Festival and won 2nd place at NYC’s 2019 Laughing Devil Comedy Festival. One of the highlights of his comedy career was being selected as a national finalist for the 2015 StandUp NBC competition and performing at the legendary Hollywood Improv in Los Angeles.
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 from Grinnell College.