As a juvenile, Latanya gained inspiration from her grandmother who taught her the importance of knowledge and a passion for reading.
“My grandmother was an educator in the South Bronx,...She read to the people in our community who couldn’t read for themselves. She read prescriptions, leases…some people’s lives depended on the information she gave them. She’d come home [from her teaching job] and she still had this, you know, this calling to help people in our community.”
Being a child in the Bronx around the 1980s was a challenge for children like Latanya who desired a novel, notably one that portrayed her. She was forced to take an hour-long train ride one way to get to the nearest bookstore for content that she wanted.
“When I was a kid, if I wanted a book on Maya Angelou, or James Baldwin, or anyone Black, I really had to search for it.”
Realizing that owning a bookstore was possible after the opening of a new store by her son's teacher, DeVaughn started her journey and followed her dreams. Unfortunately, the impacts of gentrification were affected rental prices and pushed Latanya to recognize that a brick and mortar shop was not the best route to take. She started walking and selling brand-new and used books, and distributed donated books to shelters and organizations. She also tutored adults and their children during writing classes, including at shelters across the Bronx area. She had friends who helped move books and supplies in their personal vehicles aiding in the success of Latanya’s pop-ups. With the aid of a small business grant, Latanya was capable of buying a pre-owned shuttle bus. With great joy, with some minor tweaks and touch-ups, she was able to transform the bus into a bookstore. Since Bronx Bound Books originated in 2019, Latanya has given over 7,000 free books throughout several Bronx communities.
“It’s more than just a bookstore,” Latanya says. “It’s a vehicle for us to create more programming, more access to books, and really be there for our community.”