2020 UPDATE: Heartbroken to share the news that Enchanted Chapters Bookstore went out of business due to the COVID-19 shutdown. I’m keeping this article live, as a tribute to the owners and their mission.
“PBS NewsHour” named Phoenix the most autism-friendly city in the world in 2016. The city’s newest indie bookstore, Enchanted Chapters Bookstore, will only help solidify that distinction.
Enchanted Chapters opened its doors in October 2019, as a “youth-focused bookstore working toward inclusion one book at a time.” While the store carries titles for adults (fiction, memoirs, cookbooks, parenting, etc.), it was designed for children and young adults to have a comfortable, inclusive place to relax, learn and grow through literature. It sells a wide selection of children’s books and young adult fiction, as well as comic books, graphic novels, unique toys and book-themed gifts.
The store has a bright and welcoming atmosphere, with lots of natural light from its large storefront windows and a kid-lit themed mural painted by a local artist. It includes a children’s play area designed as a sensory room – a place individuals with autism can go to feel safe, calm, supported and focused. Enchanted Chapters also has two nonhuman staff members: Bellatrix, a hairless sphinx cat; and Potter, a green cheek conure (both named after Harry Potter characters).
Enchanted Chapters already has a full calendar of monthly events. Goings-on include book clubs for all ages, toddler story time, family trivia night and social groups for home school families. Special events for the holidays are also on the agenda.
Phoenix has a thriving, supportive and inclusive community for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families. Here’s a sampling of the organizations based in the city:
- SEEDs for Autism: education, vocational training and social development for young adults
- SARRC (Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center): autism research, education, evidence-based treatment, and community outreach
- First Place Arizona: a nonprofit organization advancing innovative residential options for adults with autism and other special abilities.
- Autism Speaks: promoting solutions advocacy, support and research for the needs of individuals with autism and their families
Photo credit: Enchanted Chapters