Uncle Jed's Barbershop

by Margaree King Mitchell

Hardcover, 1993



Call number




Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (1993), Edition: Illustrated, 40 pages


Despite serious obstacles and setbacks Sarah Jean's Uncle Jed, the only black barber in the county, pursues his dream of saving enough money to open his own barbershop.

User reviews

LibraryThing member servantHEART
Sarah Jean's uncle, Jedediah Johnson, had a dream of one day opening his own barbershop, but in the South during segregation it was a little tougher than usual for a dream to come true. Jedediah would go around the county cutting people's hair to earn money for his own barbershop. One day Sarah
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Jean became ill and Jedediah spent some of his savings to save her life. After Sarah was in the clear the banks failed: The Great Depression. Jedediah eventually opened his barbershop at the age of seventy-nine, even when no one thought his dream would come true.

I enjoyed this book because it is a difficult subject told from the innocent viewpoint of a child. The text shares many vocabulary words from the historical era in the book's setting: The Great Depression, segregation, the South, and sharecroppers.

In the classroom, I would use this book to introduce Black History Month. It is a wonderful text to use during a history lesson, celebrating the future ahead and the past behind that made us who we are today...flaws and all.
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LibraryThing member mlsweatman
Uncle Jed's Barbershop was the book that i chose for my first read aloud at Holt Elementary. This book made the children ask tons of questions about the book and I could really tell they were interested in the book and the concepts im trying to teach. This book tells a story of a child growing up
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and her uncle always being there for her and her uncle finally opens his barbershop at age 79.
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LibraryThing member CamilaDeVeau
Summary: Uncle Jed’s Barbershop is set in the segregated south before and during the Great Depression. Sara Jean, the narrator, is a young African American girl whose uncle Jed is a barber with big dreams of owning his own barbershop. He speaks often of this dream and how he is saving up to make
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it come true. Sara Jean gets sick and needs an operation that her parents can’t afford, Uncle Jed helps them pay for it – setting him back in his dream of owning a barbershop. Uncle Jed just starts over in his savings. Then the stock marked crashes and Uncle Jed looses three thousand dollars in the banks. He doesn’t give up, he simply starts over again helping his friends and neighbors providing them with haircuts and shaves whether or not they can pay him. Finally, when he is seventy-nine, Uncle Jed opens the barber shop that no one believed he could.
Teaching Implications: This story has many lessons that could stem from it. The first is the theme of never giving up. Uncle Jed faces many obstacles but he never gives up or gets upset. He continues to start over and help those around him in any way that he can. The story is set in the segregated south and briefly describes some of the struggles that the African Americans faced during that time. This book could be used to introduce segregation and the effects of it on African American people. The story is also set during the time of the stock marked crash and the great depression. The effect of the great depression is not often depicted through the eyes of African Americans. This story could help the understanding of the Great Depression be more well rounded in understanding it from many people’s points of views.
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LibraryThing member ReplayGuy
This is an excellent book which is set in the south during segregation and the Great Depression. It involves a man who saves up for a barbershop but due to circumstances has to delay his dream. Many lessons can be found here including never giving up on your dreams and how to face obstacles such as
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racism. Students can also catch a glimpse of how things were during this racially charged time in America.
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LibraryThing member ChengYenLee
A brief but informative history about segregation between African American and white American in the past. Uncle Jed is trying to achieve his dream in one of the most challenging period of time in the history. Not only because of the segregation, but also other unexpected incident that he had to
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face throw.
This book really give a good image of the past, and how important to move on when you bad things happen. Just like uncle Jed, he always move on.
Historical theme is one of the best reason why I want to read this book to my children.
This is a great book for 1-7th grade or even older.
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LibraryThing member matthewbloome
This is a great, inspiring story. It also brings to light the idea of another time when hair cutting wasn't the simple run to the local barber that it is today. It has a happy ending and really encourages perseverance. Overall, I like the story a lot.
LibraryThing member CorinneLovett
I liked this book for two reasons: the theme is uplifting and it pushes readers to think about racial issues in America’s past. The theme of the story or big idea is to believe in your dreams. The character, Uncle Jed, wants to open a barber shop and he saves money for years. However, when his
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niece is ill and needs an operation, he loans her family money. Then, during the great depression, his bank fails and he loses all the money he had saved.

Throughout the story, these setbacks do not stop Uncle Jed from pursuing his dream and believing he could make it happen. He eventually opens his barber shop on his seventy-ninth birthday. He faces trials and tribulations but he achieves his dream. I think this is an inspiring message for readers of all ages. It shows that you are never too old to reach your goals and you should always persevere. The theme was inspirational but also realistic. Uncle Jed faces many challenges. I think this encourages the reader to believe in their dreams and to keep trying even when they face an inevitable difficulty.

I also liked the multicultural aspects of this book that push readers to think about the life of African Americans in the early half of the nineteenth century. The narrator, a little African American girl, talks about how “people didn’t have dreams like that in those days,” because everyone was poor. She describes how many African Americans were sharecroppers, who worked someone else’s land for a piece of the profit.

The narrator also talks about the hardships she faces for being an African American. She explains about having to wait for all the Caucasian patients at the hospital to be seen before she receives treatment. She details how everything was separate for people of different skin colors.

Because this is the backdrop in which the story is set, it introduces readers to this discrimination without making it the main focus of the story. I think this gives the reader a sense that this segregation was part of everyday life. I think it makes readers think about what life would be like to be treated poorly because of appearances. I liked how the author made me think about how discrimination would affect every aspect of life. Overall, I thought this was an excellent book with inspiring themes and much food for thought.
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LibraryThing member Phil9
What a wonderful story of life, dreams and perserverence in the south during segregation and the great depression. This Coretta Scott award book did a fabulous job depicting the harsh environment and ongoing struggles for blacks during this era, especially in the south. It showed that even facing
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unsurmountable odds and horrible luck, determination and positive attitude can prevail. Uncle Jed gets his dream and opens his own Barber shop with all the bells and whistles. Goes to show you treat people right, show respect, and simply do the right thing it will all pay off.
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LibraryThing member cpaavola
This is a children's picture book about a man who dreamed of opening a barbershop. His niece narrates and tells about how he would travel around cutting people’s hair to save up for it. She got sick as a child and uncle Jed helped pay for the medical bills, using up all of his money he'd saved
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for his shop. Then years later he came really close to opening, but then all of his money disappeared because of the Great Depression and the banks failing. He kept starting over until he finally opened it when he was 79. This is a great story about perseverance and not giving up on his dream when no one else believed in him. The illustrations look like oil paintings and have a lot of detail are beautiful. Teachers could use this to talk about the Great Depression and segregation and what it means to have a dream. At the beginning of the year teachers could have students plan out their hopes and dreams for the year after reading this story.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
A recipient of the Coretta Scott King honor award, this small, but mighty book is wonderful! Sarah Jean loves her Uncle Jed. Each week she is excited as he rides his horse to her house to cut her daddy's hair and shave his wiskers. Uncle Jed pretends to cut her hair;

As he explains that his dream is
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to own a barbershop, he is award that segregation is in place and thus he has many obstacle to overcome. He is diligently saving his money toward his dream. When Sarah Jean becomes ill and requires an operation, Uncle Jed saves her life by giving $350 for her operation.

Uncle Jed now needs to start all over again. Placing his money in the bank, the depression hits and all his money is gone. Three thousand dollars is quite a large sum to lose.

Staring all over again, Uncle Jed realizes his dream when he is 79 years old. While he doesn't have many years to enjoy his dream before he dies, he leaves behind an incredible, rich legacy to Sarah Jean. He obtained his goal through many set backs including bigotry and loss. He continued on despite all that was against him.

This is a very special book!
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LibraryThing member FamiliesUnitedLL
Start my day crying over Patricia Palocco and end it crying over Uncle Ned.

A very sweet book with determination, hard work, and a dream.
LibraryThing member FamiliesUnitedLL
I enjoyed this book. A lovely family, a dream realized, and obstacles overcome.


Original language


Physical description

11 inches


0671769693 / 9780671769697
Page: 0.6967 seconds