What if our children ran toward books like they run toward candy? And what if those books shared important, uplifting stories of Black Americans? That’s exactly what Natalie Pipkin envisioned when she dreamed of Black Worldschoolers Mobile Bookstore, which she describes as a bookstore with ice cream truck vibes.
The mobile bookstore has been met with tremendous enthusiasm and support, and how could it not? It is the coolest bookstore you’ve ever seen, from its brightly colored hip exterior to the beautiful interior filled from front to back with books. It’s clear to see why adults and kids alike enjoy shopping here. “People from all backgrounds often say they wish they had something like this when they were growing up,” Pipkin says. “And people of all ages feel like they are in another world when they enter the bus.”
Pipkin says she’s seen self-proclaimed nonreaders come onto the bus, and leave excited to read once they’ve found titles they’ve never seen at school, or characters they can relate to. The best part is that Pipkin’s sons are often on hand to share their personal recommendations, as they’ve helped to curate the store’s selection.
Black Worldschoolers began in 2018 as a homeschool/worldschool blog, sharing educational resources centering on the African Diaspora. During the COVID-19 shutdown of Indianapolis-area schools, Pipkin provided a story time hotline with authors and community members around the globe. That experience highlighted a community need for more resources and access to books.
“Black Worldschoolers exists to be a mirror for Black children and a window for all children,” Pipkin says. “We are doing our part by curating beautiful stories that are too often left off of the shelves, and by providing an exciting method of delivery to engage youth.”
As the business has shifted from an online bookstore to the addition of the mobile bookstore, Pipkin continues to thoughtfully select titles that also emphasize the idea of responsible representation.
“To me, it means being intentional about how we’re sharing someone’s culture and heritage with others,” Pipkin says. “I believe responsible representation takes a great amount of care, knowledge, respect and consistency. This is the ‘why’ behind how I curate my books.”
Since the mobile bookstore hit the road in June of 2022, they average two to three events per week locally and out of state, connecting with thousands of readers through community events, school programs, private events and pop-up shops. As Black Worldschoolers continues to grow, Pipkin hopes to create more school partnerships and speaking engagements to help share her mission, especially outside of Black History Month. Pipkin knows the power of these stories, not just for the Black community, but our community as a whole. She wants them to see Black joy in stories and not just those representing enslaved experiences or Civil Rights activists. “It’s up to the parents, caregivers, school leaders, leaders of youth centered organizations to prioritize these stories beyond February and partner with us,” she said.
If you’re interested in learning more about Black Worldschoolers, you can find up-to-date information about their events and location through their social media pages and at blackworldschoolers.com.