Karin Fisher-Golton, a member of the Board of Advisors for Multicultural Children’s Book Day, told us about her favorite bookstore, Multicultural Bookstore and Gifts. It’s located in Northern California.
Tamara Shiloh, the dynamic owner of Multicultural Bookstore and Gifts, is also an author. And Karin-Fisher-Golton is her editor. We had to learn more!
On the left, Tamara Shiloh is the author of the Just Imagine series and the owner of Multicultural Bookshop and Gifts.
Karin Fisher-Golton is on the right. Karin is on our Board of Advisors. Karin is also a children’s book author and editor. She’s holding My Amazing Day, her board book.
Question 1: How did you both meet?
Tamara: At a BAIPA (Bay Area Independent Publishers Association) meeting.
Karin: I remember where we were sitting at the BAIPA meeting when I first met Tamara and she told me the name and concept of her series, Just Imagine What If There Were No Black People in the World. The title hit me in the gut, and the notion of the very concrete way of seeing the impact of Black inventors and scientists was powerful. I also remember that we talked for quite a while. I still enjoy her company very much and am honored to get to work on her important, meaningful series.
Question 2: Tell me about Multicultural Bookshop and Gifts
Tamara: Well that’s a long story – I’ll give you the short version. A friend of mine was asked to open a pop-up store in a mall that was going through a transition and need the community to come into the mall. She asked me and another friend to join her. We did. It was supposed to be for a couple of months, November 2017 until December 2017. We did so well, the mall asked us to stay on for another 6 months. Debra decided she did not want to continue so that left me and Robin. A year later Robin decided she didn’t want to do it anymore and I became the sole owner in 2019. It takes a lot more than just selling books to sustain a bookstore. So I decided to do storytime every Saturday at 2 pm, Black history classes on Saturdays, along with a science class, and we had a math tutor on Fridays. I had a big space so we had various events in the back of the store. All of our books are face forward in the store. It is so wonderful to see the parents and kids come in and see themselves on the cover of books and not have to worry about the names of authors or the names of books. I also had a small area in the front of the store where folks could sit and have a cup of coffee or tea and read a book or just relax. We also had a play area in the front of the store for the little ones.
Karin: I knew Tamara before she had the store. I remember her talking about maybe having a kiosk in the mall over the winter holidays. Now it has grown into a beautiful independent bookstore with an active online business as well. I am so happy that her store is in our community.
From elements of my own childhood and experiences as a teacher and author, I know how vital it is for children, and all of us really, to see ourselves in books and for books to reflect the real and rich variety of humans. For people to be able to go into that store where they can be surrounded by those diverse books—and have the opportunity to bring them into homes and classrooms—is good for our spirits and for our community.
Question 3: What is your favorite section of Multicultural Bookshop and Gifts?
Tamara: The African American kids section. Black children very seldom see themselves on the cover of books. It was heartwarming to see their faces looking at the wall of books with children on the cover who look like them.
Karin: The Board Book section. I love that the children who receive those books are getting to start their lives—from the very beginning—sharing language, stories, and art with caring adults. And they won’t remember a time when diverse books weren’t part of that experience.
Question 4: What are you currently reading/recommending?
Tamara: Personally I like reading books written by James Patterson, Lee Child, David Baldacci, Michael Connelly, and a few others. I am reading Michael Connelly’s new one and also Jeff Walker’s new Launch book.
Karin: Some stand-out books of those I’ve read in recent months are Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca; Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar; Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh/This Is How I Know by Brittany Luby, ill. by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley; and The Singer and the Scientist by Lisa Rose, ill. by Isabel Muñoz, which I reviewed on the Sydney Taylor Shmooze Blog.
Question 5: Tamara is the author of the Just Imagine series and Karin is the editor. Tell me more about your relationship as author and editor, and what’s next in this series?
Tamara: Well, let me just start by saying I can’t imagine having any other editor. We’ve been together since Book 1 in the series and she has made me a better writer in so many ways. I can be a pain at times because my other work gets in the way and I have to delay our editing sessions. But she is very patient with me and I am so grateful. I think she knows my protagonist better than I do. We are currently working on the 3rd book in the 7-book series. I hope to have it out by the end of winter.
Karin: I feel so fortunate to get to work with Tamara and to get to work on her books. Tamara brings great knowledge of African American historical figures and a strong, clear vision for why it is important for children to know about them. I bring what I know about stories. She is always open to ways to make her stories more engaging. It’s wonderful to watch them evolve, while also learning through the rich content of her books.
And I do not mind when Tamara’s other work causes delays! I trust my clients’ timing on their work, and I greatly appreciate all that Tamara is doing—which is so well aligned with the goals of Multicultural Children’s Book Day!
Thank you so much Tamara and Karin! Now, let’s take a tour of Multicultural Bookstore and Gifts. You can visit their website to shop or email firstname.lastname@example.org to place an order.
Did you know that Multicultural Bookstore and Gifts is on Oprah’s 125 Black-Owned Bookstores in America That Amplify the Best in Literature?!
Bookshop.org also has a list of Black-Owned Bookshops:
Pyramid Art Books & Custom Framing
Eso Won Books
The Salt Eaters Bookshop
Old Capitol Books
Shades of Afrika
Ashay by the Bay
D3 Comic Book Spot
Multicultural Children’s Bookstore
Loving Me Books
Word of Life Christian Bookstore
Shop at Matter
People Get Ready
Solid State Books
Best Richardson African Diaspora Literature & Culture Museum
The Gathering Awareness and Book Center
Brave + Kind Bookshop
All Things Inspiration Giftique
Onyxx Bookstore Cafe
The Book Worm Powder Springs
For Keeps Bookstore
The Listening Tree
Black Dot Cultural Center
The Shrine of the Black Madonna
44th & 3rd Bookseller
Semicolon Bookstore & Gallery
Underground Bookstore IL
Da Book Joint
The Brain Lair Bookstore
The Soul Book Nook
Wild Fig Books and Coffee
Community Book Center
Between the Lines Bookstore
Olive Tree Books N Voices
Footprints Cafe LLC
Wisdom Book Center
Detroit Book City
We Are LIT
Black Stone Bookstore & Cultural Center
Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe
Black Garnet Books
Planting People Growing Justice Press & Bookstore
Aya Coffee + Books
Willa’s Books & Vinyl
Marshall’s Music and Bookstore
Liberation Station Bookstore
Source of Knowledge Bookstore
La Unique African American Books & Cultural Center
The Little Boho Bookshop
The Lit. Bar
Cafe con Libros
The Bronx is Reading
The Filling Station
Cups and Books
Sisters Uptown Books
Elizabeth’s Bookstore and Writing Centre
Alkebulan Ujaama Book Store
Smith & Hannon Bookstore
A Cultural Exchange
Fulton Street Books
Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books
The Tiny Bookstore
Books & Stuff
The Black Reserve Bookstore
Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse
The Literary Cafe
Turning Page Bookshop
Bookshop at The Bottom
The Dock Bookshop
Black Pearl Books
Black World Books
Books and Crannies
House of Consciousness
Urban Moon Books
Itty Bitty Bookstore
*Not intended to be an exhaustive listing of all Black-owned bookstores in the U.S.