A 17-year-old Memphis-based entrepreneur has created a monthly subscription box that promotes reading among African-American children in an effort to change the major racial disparity in youth literacy, WCMA Action News 5 reported.
Inspired by her younger cousin’s lack of interest in reading, Journi Prewitt initially created the Black Butterfly Beautiful box in 2017 to get young Black girls excited about reading new books. The monthly subscription box featured a children’s book written by a Black author and other products created by African-American entrepreneurs including toys and treats that were all centered around a monthly theme.
“Depending on your age group, you get a book, where the main character is a woman of color. We feature black businesses that are owned by women and then there are just trinkets in the box like jewelry and candy and different things that go along with the theme of the month,” she told WCMA Action News 5.
After the $30 box grew in popularity, Prewitt decided to curate boxes for other underserved groups; and created the “Black Dragonfly” box for young Black boys. Since the inception of her business, she has sold hundreds of boxes.
Although she’s had to make a lot of sacrifices as a teen entrepreneur, such as giving up sports and other extracurricular activities, having the opportunity to inspire young Black girls and boys has been worth it, Prewitt said. She’s slated to attend the University of Kentucky and has planned to major in both education and interior design.
Prewitt is far from the only Black youth trying to change the narrative surrounding youth literacy in the African-American community and inspire their peers. Marley Dias launched the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign last year to promote books with Black female leads so that girls of color could feel represented. In addition, an 11-year-old from St. Louis in March started his own reading club for Black boys dubbed Books N Bros.