New South Bend store helps kids learn about diversity through reading

The Brain Lair Bookstore in South Bend // WSBT 22 photo

"The more we read about everyone else, the more empathy we have for everyone because it's a safe space to be in."

Learning about diversity through reading – That's the goal of a new children's bookstore called The Brain Lair Bookstore.

It opened in South Bend just this week. This store is the dream of a local librarian.

Kathy Burnette has been wanting to open a bookstore for more than 20 years. When her daughter was younger, she had a hard time finding books her biracial daughter could relate to.

Burnette hopes her store will help families find that perfect book.

Teaching his kids to love reading is important to dad George Phillip.

"Reading is knowledge,” he told WSBT 22. “The more that you read, the better you're able to speak, the better you're able to spell. The more you can comprehend. Books also take you on different journeys that you're not able to go through in everyday life. The more that we can read and experience those different worlds, the better suited my children will be for when they get older."

But Phillip says finding a book his daughters will like can be hit or miss. That's where Kathy at Brain Lair bookstore can help.

"If you think about clothing, sometimes it fits sometimes it doesn't,” said Phillip. “Coming into a bookstore like this where Kathy can talk to you and talk to your children. You get more of that personal experience."

Kathy was a school librarian for more than 15 years. Her goal is to not only help kids find their new favorite book. She also wants the books at her store to be inclusive.

Not just books about slavery or the Civil Rights Movement but books about and written by people of color.

"Studies show that when you see yourself in a book, you feel validated and you contribute more to society,” said Burnette, “because you feel like you have a place because you see it, because you're reading about it. The books that teachers read in classes are the books that kids learn about the world from. If they're learning that the world is only like this then how will they have empathy for anyone else because they've not heard about it."

Nora, 5, and 8-year-old Aslynn approve.

"They're always asking if we can come here to look at books,” said their father Phillip.

The Brain Lair has books for ages 0-18 with some adult selections as well.

The book store is located in at 714 E. Jefferson Blvd.

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