Photo by, Annie Spratt on Unsplash

By Tallulah Echtenkamp, age 11 & IndyKids staff

Over 21,404 free books distributed across the city. That’s the impact the Brooklyn Book Bodega has had. A bodega is a store that sells many things. However, the Brooklyn Book Bodega is a bodega with a difference: Their mission is to increase the number of households with 100 or more books.

A study conducted by Joanna Sikora and Jonathan Kelley in 2014 showed that access to many books boosts life outcomes for children. Their research, which spanned 42 countries, measured kids’ reading performances and the number of books they had in their households. The researchers found that kids who lived in homes with more than 100 books had a reading performance 1.5 years higher than kids with less books. 

The women who founded the Book Bodega did it to help kids. “We thought that there was a need to create an intentional community with books and kids,” said co-founder Rebecca Cohen. The founders believed that there was no good reason why any kid should not have enough books.

To achieve its goal, the nonprofit organization hosts events where it accepts donations of gently used or new books. The events take place in community centers where kids ages 0 to 18 browse tables full of children’s and young adult books. For those who aren’t able to spend money on books, the Book Bodega can help because all of their books are free. They hope to distribute 40,000 books by the end of the year.