Bronx Children’s Museum unveils ‘The Book Bodega,’ borough’s first dedicated bookshop for kids

The Bronx Children’s Museum on June 4 unveiled “The Book Bodega,” the first-ever children’s bookshop in the Bronx.
The Bronx Children’s Museum on June 4 unveiled “The Book Bodega,” the first-ever children’s bookshop in the Bronx.
Photo Keke Grant-Floyd

The Bronx Children’s Museum on June 4 unveiled “The Book Bodega,” the first-ever dedicated children’s bookshop in the Bronx. The museum, which originally opened in December 2022, “aims to ignite curiosity, foster creativity and inspire a lifelong passion for learning through immersive STEAM experiences, preparing children for future success.”

John Boudreau, the museum’s director of marketing and communications, said that they are excited to offer this bookshop as a resource to promote literacy and hopefully fill the literacy gap in the Bronx. The bookshop will teach Bronx history and encourage children to develop pride in their roots through a diverse selection of authors and experiences.

“It’s one of the things that we’re very proud of that we have that diverse collection,” Boudreau said. “It’s really helping them to get that sense of their own culture and being prideful of their culture and that sense of belonging.”

The event also marked the launch of the highly anticipated children’s book, “Cesaria Feels the Beat,” written by the museum’s Executive Director Denise Rosario Adusei, and illustrated by Priscila Soares.

“Cesaria Feels the Beat” is about a 4-year-old Afro-Latina deaf girl who stands up for herself and takes off her shoes during her Carnival performance so that she can feel the music through her feet.

“We want our kids to be able to see themselves in the books and also the people who make the books,” said Adusei. “When children and families come here, they can connect with each other but also get a copy of a book that they just connect with.”

The Bronx Children’s Museum on June 4 unveiled “The Book Bodega,” the first-ever children’s bookshop in the Bronx.Photo Keke Grant-Floyd

The exhibit was developed by South Bronx artist, author and illustrator Charles “C.G.” Esperanza who, like Adusei, hopes that The Book Bodega extends accessibility to a diverse range of books by Black and brown authors for children.

“There are tons of just really awesome books that are coming out, especially by Bronx authors and illustrators,” Esperanza told the Bronx Times. “I think that it can be very difficult to have access or to find out about those books and maybe even meet the authors that made those books. So, this is a space to make that much more easier and convenient for Bronx residents.”

Highbridge resident Lydia Walker attended the event with her 3-year-old daughter and has been coming to the Bronx Children’s Museum since 2022 in an effort to teach her daughter the value of books.

“The importance of books is slipping on the whole with a loss of people’s opinion on them, so I think it’s important to encourage people to still buy and use books,” Walker said.

Christine Mathies, a former Bronx resident, attended the event with her 2-year-old daughter and talked about the importance of having these spaces for children.

“It’s definitely a great opportunity for the children to expand their education and have fun,” said Mathies, who added that she is interested to see what the bookshop will achieve over time.

Jessica Jackson, director of school programs and education at the Bronx Children’s Museum, talked about the process of creating The Book Bodega and expressed her excitement for the project.

“I am actually an author myself, so this is a bit of a passion project but also mixed in with my job which is the best of both worlds,” said Jackson. “So it’s been a really big labor of love from the beginning – this entire area has transformed and it’s just colorful and bright, and I’m just really excited to see how the guests use it.”

The Bronx Children’s Museum is located at 725 Exterior St., along the Harlem River and near Yankee Stadium and the Bronx Terminal Market. Its hours of operations are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, offering morning sessions from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and afternoon sessions from 2 to 5 p.m.

Admission costs vary depending on age, ranging from $8 for children, $14 for adult and, $10 for seniors who are ages 65 and up. Admission is free for children under the age of 1.

The museum also offers membership options for frequent visitors, as well as discounts and access opportunities.

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