Changemakers: Book drive for incarcerated teens in the Bronx

Posted at 6:05 PM, Oct 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-07 18:05:01-04

THE BRONX — In the digital age, books are being requested by teens!

It may be surprising to hear but these teens are behind bars in the Bronx and two women have made it their mission to provide them with books that may one day change their lives.

There can be a lot of idle time when you're a teen in a detention center and books are key. Mia Abrahams is a youth justice coordinator, working directly with teens at Horizon Juvenile Center in the Bronx.

Once she found out about the lack of books, she took action and reached out to the owner of Boogie Down Books, Rebekah Shoaf. The two decided a continuous book drive was warranted.

We met up with the two at Mottley Kitchen, where Boogie Down Books has its pop-up shop. Mia says she was not surprised by the request for books.

“For youth in particular incarcerated youth, books are a great way to pass the time," she said. "They provide escapism and cut down on idle time.”

This is not just a regular book drive, the books are driven by the teen's requests, something Shoaf says is key to reading.

“It’s so important for kids to have the opportunity to read what they want to read," she said. "For the youth at Horizon we want to make sure they have that experience of choosing the book they want to read and then receiving a new book that are theirs to keep.”

Shoaf says as people buy books for the teens at the juvenile center, they are actually building a community.

“These young people are our neighbors. Horizon is 10 blocks from here where we are right now so it's important to see reading as a way to connect with them and understand who they are as people.”

The ladies say the books also provide a foundation for continued learning, exploration in education and careers beyond Horizon.

The wish list is very diverse from fiction to non-fiction, graphic novels and much more.

If you'd like to buy a book from the wish list head to