by Gary Axelbank
July 23, 2018
To keep the fire of literacy burning in the Bronx, Boogie Down Books, known as the bookstore without walls, has a ‘pop-up bookshop’ for children, their parents, and the community at Mottley Kitchen at 402 E. 140th Street. And if you stop in there on Saturday mornings, you’ll see that children and their parents, along with community members, come flocking in for quality coffee and breakfast and also to mix, mingle, read, and be read to.
“This brings together different people from the community around books,” said Rebekah Shoaf the, energetic creator and founder of Boogie Bown Books. “It helps families learn about new books as well as classic titles that might be perfect for their kids that they’d like to incorporate into story time at home. It also helps to bring kids together to meet each other.”
With the 1.4 million people of the Bronx anxiously awaiting the opening of the Lit Bar, which will be the borough’s only book store, Boogie Down Books is giving the 600,000 Bronxites who are under the age of 18 a chance at all the rewards that books and reading can mean. The guest reading-aloud program, according to Shoaf, is an important shared experience for the children and it also brings the community together.
“I think it’s great for families on a Saturday morning to come to a community place and meet their neighbors and do something really both fun and educational,” said Chascilly Mers who came for storytime with her husband and two year-old daughter. “Besides the fact that it’s promoting literacy, it’s about imagination. It’s a way of seeing the world from a different perspective. I love how it builds her imagination.”
Because Mottley Kitchen is a bustling place on Saturday mornings, some families delight at the simple discovery of something valuable for children and families.
“We actually came in to eat,” said Daniel Agosto as he, his wife, and six year-old son shared their morning meal together. “But we found out that they had the reading and obviously we’re going to stay for it to expand his vocabulary, his ability to read, recognize words and things like that. It’s the backbone of his education.”
Boogie Down Books had their first event in October of 2017 and they’ve been conducting Saturday Storytime since the spring. Shoaf says her ultimate goal is to have a bookmobile to reach even more of the Bronx.
“I believe in books wholeheartedly,” she said. “I really love giving kids an opportunity to engage with books and to develop all of the life, social skills, and social emotional skills that reading brings.”