BookUp Expands to Detroit, MI

The NBF has expanded BookUp, it’s afterschool reading program, to Detroit, MI in partnership with locally-based InsideOut Literary Arts Project (iO). For eight years, BookUp has worked in underserved communities throughout New York City to put books into the hands of middle school students and inspire them to become lifelong readers. For the past twenty years, InsideOut has helped strengthen the voices of more than 50,000 of Detroit’s youth through writing workshops and mentorships. Detroit is the NBF’s first partner city, and the BookUp iO Detroit site represents the first step in an ongoing expansion effort.

“BookUp has achieved tremendous results in New York, and we see Detroit as a city that welcomes new initiatives to address literacy and educational equality,” said Leslie Shipman, Assistant Director of the NBF and founder of the BookUp program. “We see InsideOut Literary Arts Project not just as an expert in how BookUp can accomplish its goals in Detroit, but also as an important ally in our mission to promote reading among young people.”

Inside Outs literary arts logoBookUp sites are all led by acclaimed local writers, helping to bring new depth and excitement to reading lists and books selected by students. To date, BookUp has given away over 25,000 books to its students, often establishing their first home library. Shawntai Brown, a playwright, poet, and iO writer-in-residence living in Detroit, will be BookUp iO Detroit’s instructor, meeting weekly with a group of approximately 20 students at the Garvey Academy.

“As an organization founded on the belief that young people want and deserve opportunities to engage deeply with literature, InsideOut sees the launch of our first BookUp site as a natural extension of our mission,” said Alise Alousi, Associate Director of iO. “We share BookUp’s belief that there’s a powerful level of engagement that happens when professional writers become part of a school community. We look forward to growing our work with BookUp iO Detroit and with the young readers of Marcus Garvey Academy.”

The launch of the BookUp iO Detroit site will be celebrated with a book giveaway at 11 a.m. on October 19 at Garvey Academy. All students in the BookUp iO Detroit program will receive a free copy of Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, Longlisted for the 2015 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Leslie Shipman and Alise Alousi will give remarks alongside James Hearn, Principal of Garvey Academy.

Shawn tai Brown works with students as part of BookUp iO Detroit at Garvey Academy from National Book Foundation on Vimeo.

Questions about the BookUp iO Detroit site and/or requests to attend the site launch should be directed to

About the InsideOut Literary Arts Project

iO is a nationally recognized hub of creativity for K-12 students in Detroit who are curious about exploring their worlds through the power of poetry. Since 1995, iO has helped to amplify the voices of thousands of students by dispatching established and emerging poets and writers into classrooms. The writers conduct creative workshops work side-by-side with students over the course of the year, helping them to create poems, stories, artwork and stage-ready performance pieces. Students contribute to their school’s literary journal, which is published and presented by iO at the end of each year during in-school galas.

In 2009, the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities tapped iO as one of the country’s top youth arts programs with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. What began as a tiny idea in the heart of one teacher, founder Dr. Terry Blackhawk, continues to blossom into a grand example of the literary arts helping students leap over academic obstacles to express themselves as leaders now.