Library staffer gets new Mr. T 'do after surpassing reading program goal

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Niles Gray pities the fool who goes a whole summer without reading.

Well, he probably won't call the person a fool. But keeping his end of a deal to kids who did read this summer, the Lawrenceville Library Associate shaved his hair to look like former "A-Team" star Mr. T.

Every year the Gwinnett County libraries participate in the summer reading club, a program that lets kid set reading goals with their parents at the beginning of the summer with many prizes along the way. The Lawrenceville branch only had 12 students complete the program last year.

Gray thought they could do better. In the Suwanee Branch, 100 kids completed the program after a staffer promised to dye his hair blue for a week. So Navis gave the kids his extra incentive: promising to don the "A-team" star's prominent hairdo in exchange for 431/2 students completing the program, putting them ahead of all nearby libraries.

The goal was surpassed, and 61 kids successfully completed the summer reading program. On Aug. 9, 31 people showed up to see another staff member give Davis the promised haircut.

"I had a childhood dream of shaving my head like Mr. T. I didn't think it would take 28 years to get to it," Davis said.

Many of the kids who finished the program were middle schoolers, a crucial target group. The Lawrenceville library staff said kids start to lose interest in reading during adolescence as they develop other interests and read not-so-fun books in school.

"Reading is the best thing there is, they just haven't found the book they loved yet," Davis said.

Lawrenceville Branch Manager Beth McIntyre says the program complements school summer reading to help expand kids' horizons.

"Reading contributes to success in later life," she said. "I tell kids you need to keep reading so you'll be rich one day. We want people to enjoy reading."