Bert Raney teacher Roxie Tanner is taking an unusual approach in encouraging students to read. Every morning before the start of classes, 3rd and 4th grade students come to her classroom to have their hair braided by other BRE teachers while they read their favorite books.

Tanner said that she first got the idea from a South Dakota school district. When she told BRE Principal Lisa Hansen about it, Hansen told her to “go for it.” Tanner also said that Hansen supplied her with all of the necessary supplies and resources to get the program off the ground.

Since then, Books and Braids has mushroomed into an immensely popular activity for BRE students. Girls sign up in advance for appointments, and are treated to a full salon experience (including stylist capes donated by local hair salons).

Students are able to request different styles of braids, which Tanner says makes it a fun and empowering experience for the girls. It also provides students with an extra incentive that encourages them to read.

Other BRE teachers volunteer to cover shifts at the salon, and from appearances, have just as much fun as the girls.

Tanner says that the program also gives students time to decompress before the start of class. In fact, the program has become so popular with the students that Tanner said that she is exploring potentially opening up the program to 2nd and 5th grade students.