If 11-year-old Sidney Keys III took you on a tour of his school library, you'd probably find a limited amount of books that feature African American authors and characters. However, Sidney did not allow the lack of representation and literacy promotion to stifle his passion for reading. As a matter of fact, it drove him to start his very own book club, called "Books N Bros". Sidney's idea was solidified after his first visit to Missouri’s University City bookstore, "EyeSeeMe", where his mother recorded a Facebook video of him reading. The video went on to receive more than 62,000 views. Sidney's mom, Winnie Caldwell said of the visit turned inspirational video:
“He hadn’t seen [a bookstore] like that before and I certainly never had, so he was making himself comfortable on the floor, reading a book... When you get to a point when he is 11-years-old and it was so shocking for him to relate to someone on the cover in a positive aspect rather than it be some negative urban story we see a lot. I would like to make sure he sees himself in being whatever he can be."
Now, 'Books N Bros' have been hosting monthly meetings in that same bookstore since September 2016, discussing and dissecting books with Black protagonists such as: Margot Lee Shetterly's "Hidden Figures", Ty Allan Jackson’s "The Supadupa Kid", and Patricia McKissack's "A Song for Harlem: Scraps of Time".
In addition to receiving books, light refreshments, and worksheets about the reading material with their $20 membership fee, members also have the opportunity to meet and fellowship with successful male role models, who are invited to speak at meetings. The book club welcomes boys from all different walks of life, while also remaining focused on celebrating and highlighting African American literature and culture.
Way to go, Sidney! Thank you for using your passion for reading to promote literacy among young boys who look like you.