By Juliet Martinez
Inside Stories Like Me, children and young adults can find books that validate them and open windows and doors into the lives of others.
Readers of all ages crowded into the bookstore for its grand opening on February 25. Located at the corner of Hazelwood and Murray avenues, it offers kids and families a social space to explore the many ways people live in the world.
The store’s tables offer vibrant displays of books on themes of African-American fiction and nonfiction, neurodiversity and disability, LGBTQ pride, nature and social-emotional learning. The shelves on the walls are organized by age, from board books to young adult titles.
Danielle Genemore, who attended the grand opening with her Greenfield Elementary fourth- and second-graders and a few of their friends, said her son had recently gotten a book there whose main character is a wheelchair user.
“That was the first time he’d ever read a book like that. It was really cool,” she said.
The store’s owner, Helen Campbell, always wanted to open a bookstore. The spark that ignited her wish was a workshop she attended where she learned about Dr. Rudine Bishop’s framing of books as mirrors that validate a child’s experiences, and both windows and sliding doors into other perspectives, cultures and lives. On fire with this mission, Ms. Campbell and her adult children, Elsie and Imogen, launched the store online in 2018 and opened the storefront in November.
Photos by Juliet Martinez
Stories Like Me offers story hour for young children on Sundays at 10:30 a.m., and educator nights every third Tuesday of the month from 6 to 8 p.m. The educator nights give teachers a chance to build community while previewing books that might be affirming and enlightening to students.
“We’ve got lots of books on social-emotional learning, we’ve got lots of books that represent all kinds of families, all kinds of kids,” Ms. Campbell said, adding that there is always more to learn.
“This is an ongoing project. We’re a safe space for the LGBTQ community and we welcome all kids, all families.”
Juliet Martinez is the managing editor of The Homepage.