bookstores, Black books, Black bookstores

Book-loving Mom Launches Online Bookstore Beyond This February To Amplify Our Stories

A book-loving mom started an online bookstore to change how the next generation of Black children sees themselves represented in books.

For Tamika Thompson, the founder and owner of Beyond This February bookshop, it’s a place where people can find Black stories 365 days a year. According to Greenville News, Thompson operates the online bookshop along with pop-up sales for readers of all ages.

Thompson recalled being able to find a good number of Black narratives in bookstores during February for Black History Month. But the lack of Black stories in the months to follow inspired the name of her online bookstore.

Thompson said finding herself and her children represented in literature was hard to digest– to the point that she sometimes drew the characters to look like her in books she owned.

Even still, Thompson said, “But a lot of times, even if I loved the story, I couldn’t connect because it wasn’t culturally relevant. I didn’t find the books that I loved, and that stayed with me until I was an adult. And that only came from finally having access to authors who not only look like me but had experiences that match the context of my life.”

The mother found herself coming up against the same issue of not seeing Black people represented in books when she had children. She pointed out that many books that feature Black characters often center around trauma or some sort of historical prevalence.

“As a mother, I still experienced the same situation with my own children in finding books that were relevant to them – and here we are in the 2020s, and it was still pulling teeth to get stories that weren’t trauma-based.”

There aren’t any plans to launch a brick-and-mortar location.