INDIANAPOLIS — Like the ice cream truck, you can hear and see it coming. Kids flock to this mobile bookstore when it shows up at different events around Indiana.
Natalie Pipkin started Black Worldschoolers Mobile Bookstore. It's the first of its kind in our region.
The smiles and dances from children say it all.
“It gets wild in here, doesn’t it? It gets wild," Pipkin said.
This mobile bookstore brings all Black books directly to you. When you step on board the bus, children pick out books and buckle in to read. They have the option to put the book back on the shelves or buy it to take home.
It’s a family affair, with Natalie’s kids helping run the business too.
Pipkin said this dream started with her kids asking why they didn’t see many Black books and learn much Black history in school.
“[It's] the same thing that my grandparents went through, the same thing that my mother and father went through, and then it was me and now my children are still experiencing," she said.
Pipkin made it her mission to share the Black stories that weren’t being told. With so many stories, there’s not enough space on the shelves and the bookstore has to switch out books based on where they go.
The mobile bookstore partners with whomever asks them to show up. That includes Circle City Prep School.
“I would love to see it at every school. All schools. Not just in Black neighborhoods, all schools,” said mother Shawntina Brown.
“You have to go somewhere special to get it instead of, you know, a mainstream library. So, I love this cause it’s mobile,” said guardian Barbara Wright.
That mobility puts children behind the wheel of their own learning.
“The books are amazing," said Micah, a student. “I just want to thank my mom because she let me come here.”
Tsion is another student and she said, “I like how I can see other people that look like me.”
Administrators and teachers said they see this bookstore filling a need.
“We serve an underserved population,” said Circle City Prep Director of Student and Family Alise Dalstrom.
It provides students a chance to see themselves represented in literature.
“It’s the difference between a kid saying, ‘hey I actually love to read and a kid being like I’m not interested’,” said Dalstrom.
WRTV asked, “what happens if they don’t read.” Dalstrom said, “every single thing you do in life, has to do with reading.”
The mobile bookstore approach hopes to increase literacy beyond the state test scores.
“How do you introduce them to stories that can change their lives? How do you introduce them to stories that they love? How do you help them fall in love with reading before you judge can they read or not?” Pipkin asked.
These stories show all kinds of books displaying the beauty, humanity, and history of Black people.
It’s a story that often goes unshared.
“What about responsible representation? Positive representation. Representation has to be responsible,” said Pipkin.
Books create a window for all people to step into a new world. So, let’s create the world you want to see.
Black World Schooler Mobile Bookstore is brand new. It opened on June 18 after launching online in December 2020. The bookstore travels all around and you can follow them on all social media to see where their next stop is. They are most active on Instagram.