5-year-old becomes author after pandemic shutters library

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Before the pandemic, 5-year-old Egypt Bush made weekly trips to the Cambria Heights branch of the Queens Public Library, where she would pick up 10 to 14 books at a time as bedtime stories for her and her brother. In March, a beloved pastime was suddenly disrupted.

“When the library closed, we had a bunch of books, maybe 10-12 that we had checked out,” says Egypt’s mother, Shaleem Bush. “She kept reading them over and over with her dad. One day he said, ‘Why don’t you come up with a story?’ That night, she told him a story from her imagination. And he started writing down what she wrote.

Egypt Bush

And he asked her, ‘Why don’t you write your own book?’ She got really excited.”

And just like that, a new hobby was born. Shaleem, who is in the communications field, worked with a graphic designer to bring the books to life. Young Egypt is now a prolific author; since June, she has published “Superhero Town,” “Superhero Family,” “Superhero School” and “Egypt’s Everyday Superheroes Coloring and Activity Books.”

The theme in all of the books is that ordinary people have superpowers they can use to help their community. Her books all star herself — a New Yorker with Trinidad heritage — as a main character. A 2018 review of diversity in children’s publishing found that only 10 percent of children’s books depicted an African-American character.

“There aren’t that many places where she can see kids that look like herself,” says Shaleem. “It’s about empowerment.”

Egypt is attending school remotely, but she has had a virtual read-along of her books with her class. She and her mother have visited neighborhood beauty-supply stores and nail salons where she has sold the book.

“Seeing her interact with these kids is really special,” says Shaleem. “They all say, ‘I want to write a book, too!’”

Follow Egypt on Instagram at @beingegypt.



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