The Blue Manatee Literacy Project is sparking a joy for learning one book at a time. For our annual kid's issue, we chat with the new owner of this longtime local bookstore that recently rebranded. Learn about its "buy a book, give a book" mission encouraging literacy among our community’s most at-risk population.
The Blue Manatee Literacy Project is on a mission to light a spark inside children. “The Blue Manatee has always been more than just a bookstore,” says owner Amanda Kranias. “It creates a love of books and reading from an early age.”
Blue Manatee wants to take the spark they light inside of children and give them the opportunity to experience the joy of reading. Not only is this the place to buy books, but it’s also a space that children will feel welcome for story time, to meet authors, and to buy gifts.
The inspiration for Blue Manatee came from the desire to revive Independehtly-owned bookstores and create something for families to experience a world of ideas. “It is our goal to evolve and endure, and to grow stronger as we go,” she adds.
The community team of educators, reading, early childhood experts, start-up veterans, physicians, and non-profit leaders behind Blue Manatee want to enhance childhood literacy among Cincinnati’s at-risk student population. “Through a reinvention of Oakley’s treasured Blue Manatee Bookstore as the front door to the mission we call ‘Curated Literacy,’ books and experiential learning will be purposely connected,” Kranias explains. “For decades, the Blue Manatee’s incredible sense of place has fostered young readers’ enthusiasm for literature, imagination, and expressive arts and formed familial bonds and routines that forever impact its patrons. Far too few children have the gift of this experience, and that’s why we aim to change that.”
There are thousands of books at Blue Manatee, including books for expectant mothers, babies, teenagers, and everyone in between. There are also books for adults, as the bookstore prides itself on the board non-fiction section, foreign language titles, graphic novels, ecologically-themed books, folktales, and so much more.
Also important to Blue Manatee is the experience that its customers have when they visit. “We strive to provide engaging events tailored to our local audience,” says Kranias. “We develop affordable, innovative programs hosted by passionate people, and continually improve them.”
The goal at Blue Manatee is to be a fun destination for families, an active participant in the community, and a fun place to work. “We want to be a unique, inspiring place where kids will take their own children someday,” she adds.
Blue Manatee does good for the community as well. For every book that is purchased with them, a book is donated to a child in need. “Through every purchase, you are directly investing into literacy programs for communities all around the Cincinnati area,” adds Kranias.
Currently, Blue Manatee is only open for curbside pickup. You can find more information on their opening and other service options at https://www.bluemanatee.org. You can stay socially connected — and check out their virtual story times and online events — on Facebook and Instagram.