INKPEN believes books inspire. Our mission is to connect readers and writers by building audiences for writers of color, giving books to teens, sharing stories and ideas, creating conversations, and inspiring cultural exchange.

Through partnerships with public school libraries and community library programs, INKPEN strengthens the voices of high school youth and their ability to craft stories. Craft shops with teaching artists and library read-ins with diverse writers share the experience of storytelling.

Our goal is to give 1,000 books each year to students. Book ownership builds pride in reading. It also creates a legacy of stories that can be shared.  


"Gabriel Coats had purchased freedom over and again as if it were quicksilver. As soon as the coin was handed over it seemed that the stuff of it -- freedom -- disappeared. It became something else that couldn't be had or held. It chafed him. He was not fully free! He was only not as bound as others. For this he resolved to fight the war." 

                                                                                                               - Stand the Storm

Breena Clarke discusses research, the emancipation of Blacks enslaved in Washington, Georgetown's Black community, and the Civil War.

She reads from her novel Stand the Storm to students at Dunbar High School. 

INKPEN Read-Ins engage youth in conversations with writers on storytelling and craft. During a visit to Paul L. Dunbar High School, novelist Breena Clarke shares how she uses research and imagination to write. Authors Natalie Hopkinson and Simba Sana speak with Roosevelt High School students on the songs and stories of D.C. streets.


“Go-Go music is a metaphor for the life and death of chocolate cities all over the United States.”                         

 -Natalie Hopkinson, the author of Go-Go Live, tells music and DC history students at Theodore Roosevelt High School

“Boys all around the city created little junkyard bands with fake instruments –buckets to serve as the drums, STP motor oil cans to fill in for the timbales, and a thick plastic cup or bottle to give off the sound of a cowbell.

The guys on H Place created their own little band, and they played in the wide alley behind H Place."

- Simba Sana, the author of Never Stop, reads to students at Theodore Roosevelt High School