New University City store focuses on books for African-American children

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - A new bookstore on Olive Boulevard in University City is taking reading to a new level, and a different one.

"Eye See Me" is the first-of-its kind retailer in the St. Louis area, with an emphasis on books for African-American children.

“That’s where the name came from. ‘Eye See Me.’ We wanted our children to see themselves in the story,” co-owner Jeffrey Blair said.

Blair and his wife, Pamela opened the store in 2015.

The store was an immediate hit for Sidney Keys, 10, of Hazelwood.

“We walked in, and I saw, all these books. And I was like, I got to read one of them.”

Keys’ favorite item is Danny Dollar Millionaire. Danny, the protagonist, is featured on the cover.

“Most of the books that I see at a public library or my school library don’t have many African-American people in them. But a lot of the books here do.”

Experts say it is important for children – especially at a young age – to read. Julius Anthony is the founder of the St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s Literature Initiative.

“When I train teachers, I ask them, ‘How many books in your classroom have at least one black child as a protagonist? The average, percentage that I get back is about 4%. That’s incredibly low,” he said. “We know what the research says. Kids must see themselves in the things that they read. They also must have an interest in the things that they read.”

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