Episode #7: Diversity and Commonalities Through Literature: A Conversation with Jeffrey Blair, owner of the EyeSeeMe Bookstore

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Never being able to identify with characters in a book can be a difficult thing for a child who is learning how to read.  This is the struggle that one family had as they attempted to educate their children in a mostly Caucasian world of books.  That is when Jeffrey and Pamela Blair first began to realize that they and other African American families were facing challenges of finding books to help their children feel good about their culture and heritage. Now, as founders and owners of the EyeSeeMe bookstore, Jeffrey and Pamela can stock not only household bookshelves with reflections of the reader, but schools across the nation as well. Join me in this interesting conversation as we discuss the beginnings of the “mirrors and reflections” ideology and how this family has helped grow a love for reading in children across the nation. 

 

Photo via Colter Peterson for the St. Louis Post Dispatch

Jeffrey Blair and wife/ Eyeseeme co-owner Pamela Blair

 

“If they don’t see themselves in the books or the curriculum then no wonder they get disengaged.”

“Research shows when children see themselves– when African American children are taught about their history, they do better academically.”

“The more I think– especially with this world becoming more and more diverse– I think it’s important that we prepare our children for that diverse world… It’s just beautiful to see all these different perspectives. There’s different ways to tell a story. It’s like, imagine just having one type of food all your life. That’ll sustain you, and maybe you have some favorites, but what a beautiful thing it would be to try different types of foods.”

–Jeffrey Blair, The Classroom Matters Podcast

Photo via EyeSeeMe.com

The EyeSeeMe bookstore, located in University City, MO

 

In this episode, you’ll hear…

  • The process the bookstore underwent to be able to thrive as it does today
  • Why children seeing themselves in the books they read is so important
  • How identifying with content correlates with academic success

Photo via Fox2 News

Sidney Keys III, founder of Books n Bros, visiting the bookstore

 

Photo via Educate.Today

Jeffrey Blair with Kristy Houle during the Classroom Matters podcast recording

 

Links to…

The EyeSeeMe website

The NBC News featured story

The St. Louis American featured story

The Books n Bros organization, which was heavily inspired by EyeSeeMe