Former educator champions Black-owned bookshop to promote literacy within the community

ByAngelica James Localish logo
Thursday, May 16, 2024
This former educator's bookshop is more than just a place to buy books
A Black-owned bookshop owner is promoting literacy through education, arts and community.

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK -- Darlene Okpo believes that there is still a lot of work to be done to improve literacy among children. That's why she founded her own bookshop, Adanne Bookshop.

The Igbo name Adanne means 'her mothers daughter - the bookshop's name serves as an ode to Okpo's own mother, who encouraged her love for reading.

As a former English Language Arts teacher, Okpo is passionate about literacy's positive impacts, from increasing vocabulary, to speech confidence, to stress reduction. More than half of Americans read below a 6th grade level, a statistic Okpo is working to reduce through the programming and values of her bookshop, which encourage reading within her community.

Concerns regarding literacy are ongoing and have become more pronounced as a result of the pandemic, which heightened already-existing issues with literacy in NYC schools and disproportionately affected Black and brown children. In 2023, the chancellor of NYC schools, David Banks, alongside Mayor Eric Adams, launched the 'NYC City Reads program, a citywide campaign to strengthen literacy.

Okpo encourages literacy with her own programs, like her 'Once Upon a Bookstore Storytime,' for preschoolers at PS5 in Brooklyn, New York where she or a visiting author will read to school-age children. Her "Eat MY Words" program connects book lovers with artists over an intimate dinner setting to facilitate exciting conversation.

Okpo is passionate about creating safe spaces that not only encourage education, but also foster a supportive community.

You can visit Adanne Bookshop at 115 Ralph Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221.