ST. LOUIS — A bookstore in University City was swarming with teachers, families, and a nationally known children’s author whose writings center on Black children.

Author Derrick Barnes spoke about “Like Lava in My Veins,” a colorful picture book about a Black student who learns to understand and manage his emotions, thanks to his new teacher.

Barnes’ meet-and-greet event took place October 23 at Eye See Me. The bookstore is the largest African-American children’s bookstore in the United States.

The co-owner of Eye See Me, Jeffrey Blair,  said it is important for children to “see” themselves in the books they read. The store carries books geared to children as young as toddlers  to young adult. It also features books for adults.

Barnes said his book reflected the reality for many Black children. “Like Lava in My Veins,” he said, underscores the critical role educators play in students’ lives.

“Black boys and girls are four to six times more likely to be suspended, to be kicked out of class, than their white peers,” he said. “This book is a shout out to all those teachers who do everything they can to learn the culture, the community they’re teaching in. You can’t really teach a child if you don’t know them. And you don’t love them.”

On this week’s Pulse of St. Louis, Jasmine Huda spoke with Barnes and Blair about “Like Lava in My Veins.”