#28DaysOfBlackness: One Little Video—Books N Bros & Eye See Me Bookstore

Picture it in 2015, and scrolling through Facebook. I was looking for somewhere to take my girls on a weekend excursion. This is the video that caused the course of my Saturday (click here). I watched as a Black mom and her son in a bookstore, that was Black owned! The video is about 5 minutes long, and I showed my husband–and we decided to venture to University City to check this out!

By the next weekend, we decided we had to go. This small corner bookstore was everything my inner child bookworm could desire. It’s brightly lit; there are places to sit and read; the staff is knowledgeable; every single book in the store is written, drawn, or the vision of a Black writer or artist. And they have the best mission statement:

Our mission is to be a resource to parents, teachers, and schools in providing the very best children’s books on the market that promote positive images and stories about African American culture and history. As a tool to help increase literacy, African American children will benefit by seeing themselves respectfully represented in the literature they read. Non-African American children will benefit by helping to dispel negative and inaccurate stereotypical images of people of color and that despite our many differences, all people share common feelings and aspirations.

How amazing is this?!

I have been in St. Louis my entire life, and have never knowing anything like this before right now. From that weekend with my children, Eye See Me has been a mainstay for my children! That, and when my husband was teaching elementary school? He started his classroom library for his school from Eye See Me!

Moreover; he told the school he was teaching at (Barack Obama Elementary School in Normandy Schools Collaborative), about Eye See Me! From that conversation, the librarian held a book fair–the source for the books? Eye See Me.

That’s how you build community, fam. You uplift as you build.

Remember that Mom and her son I mentioned in the video? They actually went to Eye See Me because her son loves to read, and she wanted him to have more books by Black authors. From those desires, they founded Books N Bros! Winnie Caldwell (left) and her son Sidney Keys III (right) have created a space for Black boys to read, enjoy reading and to connect.

The Mission Statement is as follows:

“To combat the statistic that boys (especially African American boys) ages 7- 13 are at a lower literacy level than others. In the process of combatting against this statistic, we are a youth led organization to reach the masses and encourage character development; while bringing awareness to positive African American literature.”

Books N Bros offers merchandise, networking opportunities as well as the program Adopt-A-Bro! I personally had the awesome privilege of adopting a bro, and helping him network and find a love of reading. You can decide to remain anonymous (as I did), and there are three levels of support for a specific adoption opportunities. If that’s not your speed, there are other opportunities to donate, as well as to view Sidney’s Wishlist. For all other info and updates, please see Books N Bros on Facebook.

I plan on adopting another Bro next month, and if you can I invite you to do the same. If you aren’t, follow either Books N Bros or Eye See Me on any social media platform!

In 2019, and thereafter, we are lifting as we build. And sometimes, that happens one book or share at a time.

[images from eyeseeme.com and booksnbros.com]

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