Afrodiasporan Teen Literature independent bookstores YA Literature

Gathering in Circles

It is May!

Besides it being birthday month in my house, it is the final, final month when I gaze excitedly at that pile of books waiting to chat with the circle members about all things Black lit!

A couple weeks ago, my family traveled to Philadelphia and New York. Each of these literary cities are so inspiring for the stories captured in the lives there.

In Philly, we stayed at the Inn at Penn and in the lobby, there is a great living room filled with statutes and books. Right downstairs was the Penn bookstore and of course, we explored some titles by local authors. We had a chance to walk on the campus and while it is closed, still got to at least glimpse at The Kelly Writers’ House where Modern Poetry is taught.

Harriett’s Bookshop in Fishtown did not disappoint. That Black-owned store celebrates the power of words from the pens of Black women. I picked up a couple of books and the twine wrapping with lavender twigs was a nice touch.

Uncle Bobbie’s Café and Bookstore is the kind of place I would gather with the teens if we were in person and over in Germantown. From the perfect oatmilk and toffee latte to the variety of Black lit, it is a complete celebration of all that I hope for in this literary circle.

While we didn’t have a chance to stop in Brooklyn at one of our favorite bookstores, we did walk around New York University and thought of the many stories that emerge from that city. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and Washington Square Park was filled with folks just happy to be able to safely be outside. There was sidewalk chalk inviting you to walk until you found the dance party and then there was an entire display of a community connection through shared stories. We breathed in and imagined gathering in circles on a blanket reading.

This summer, we are still virtual, choosing to celebrate the gift of connectedness that the pandemic has given us. We are also excited about more of the teens getting their vaccine. What if they gathered together with other circle members in their cities and we had sorta-in-person Zoom lit circle moments? I can dream!

This circle was born of a need and desire to center Afrodiasporan literary works in the lives of Black middle and high school students whose narratives were often left out of the assigned readings in their schools. Over the years, we have grown to a space that still celebrates the ever-increasing-volumes of words that center Black lives in ways that honor our existence.

We are excited to see who will be joining us and meeting in the Zoom room on June 1st.

Want to learn more? Visit here, contact us, register, and keep up with what we are planning to do. On Facebook, we are @TayeFosterBradshawGroup. You can always visit this page as we get closer for more information and lastly, parents, sign your teen up for this very accessible, affordable, and amazing literary experience that is part educational enrichment, part writing workshop, and all reading enjoyment.

I can’t wait to read with you!

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