Bookstore on Wheels Drives a Love of Reading

This woman fulfills her dream by opening a much-needed bookmobile.

Bookstore on Wheels Drives a Love of Reading | This woman fulfills her dream by opening a much-needed bookmobile.

Every neighborhood needs a bookstore. One inspired woman took this mission to heart and opened her dream bookstore in the Bronx in New York City. Yet this is not a standard bricks and mortar store; Bronx Bound Books is a community project on wheels, ensuring everyone in the neighborhood has a bookstore nearby!

Ever since Latanya DeVaughn was a child, she dreamed of opening a bookstore, according to Parents. Adopted by her grandmother, she spent many childhood hours exploring book shops and garage sales. While shoppers were busy looking at clothing and furniture, DeVaughn always had her head buried in books!  

Inspired by her grandmother
 “My grandmother was an educator in the South Bronx,” Latanya explained to GoFundMe Heroes. “She read to the people in our community who couldn’t read for themselves. She read prescriptions, leases…some people’s lives depended on the information she gave them. She’d come home [from her teaching job] and she still had this, you know, this calling to help people in our community.”

Although her grandmother passed away when DeVaughn was just 19, her positive influence remained. Today, as a hard-working mother of three living in the Bronx, DeVaughn never forgot her dream. Yet she knew her idea was important as the nearest bookstore was one hour away on public transportation, making books inaccessible to many.

She did not want to commit to paying the high rent of a bookstore. But when she was introduced to the idea of a mobile bookshop, she became inspired, according to Parents. She soon envisioned a bookstore that comes to the community, be it at the farmers market, park, schools, and beaches.

The importance of community
DeVaughn understood that community was the most important aspect to ensure the success of this project and began by reaching out to friends and neighbors. “Your community is your most valuable asset when starting a small business," she told Parents. “If you're vulnerable enough to let them know what you want, they'll try and make it happen for you.”

She collected used books from friends and good neighbors, opened a GoFundMe page, and received a small business loan. Soon she had a shuttle bus, loads of books, and kindness from lots of enthusiastic helpers. In fact, she had support right across the borough, the city, and the country, according to Welcome2TheBronx. Be it volunteering, donating books, contributing financially, many wanted to be a part of Bronx Bound Books.

Her dream was finally realized on the Labor Day weekend of 2020, when the mobile bookstore took to the streets, according to Parents. DeVaughn soon realized that she was making a huge impact on the community, with both young and old alike.

She told Parents about an older woman who came into the store, proud to see Black authors and Black heroes on the book covers. “This is beautiful,” the teary woman told DeVaughn. “I didn't see this growing up and for the kids of today to see themselves, when they walk in here, you have no idea how much of an impact you're making right now.”

Although DeVaughn’s dream has come true, there is no reason why she cannot dream big! She has plans to partner with schools, book fairs, and even get a second bus. Not only is DeVaughn inspiring her community and her children, customers can be transformed by their purchase, proudly coming home with a cherished book to call their own.

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