Bookstore finds sweet spot at The Shops at Hilltop

Multicultural Children’s Bookstore announces new Richmond location
Tamara Shiloh, author and owner of the Multicultural Children's Bookstore, when it was located in Hilltop Mall.

The situation couldn’t be any sweeter for lovers of bookstores, especially children’s books.

The Multicultural Children’s Bookstore recently celebrated a grand-reopening in a new, larger space at The Shops at Hilltop — and right across from the popular Loard’s Ice Cream.

And so the bookstore’s clever owner, Tamara Shiloh, set up cafe seating at the front of her store, with a sign saying, “Eat your ice cream here.” Patrons can also help themselves to a cup of complimentary coffee in the bookstore’s cafe area.

The Multicultural Children’s Bookstore still has a children’s play area, storytime sessions with volunteer readers, and a wide variety of culturally diverse books.

But the new space has been augmented into a full-on family activity center focused on literature, with a spacious area in the back that will soon have a mini-movie theater playing classic, documentary and animated films, a black history resource center, members area with more kids activities and space for birthday parties.

In the coming days, the bookstore will host a fundraising event for Girls Inc. of West Contra Costa County, a private toy giveaway for families in need, and a book reading and signing by firefighter-author Robin Poindexter.

Need holiday gifts? Those are offered, as well, including the wrapping paper.

“I want people to feel comfortable here; I don’t want anyone to feel like they have to purchase anything when they come in,” Shiloh said. “Parents can sit down, have a cup of coffee while the kids play or while they read to them.”

All activities serve the central purpose of sparking in youth an interest in books, particularly children from minority groups who may not often see themselves reflected in stories at typical bookstores.

“It’s nice they can come into a bookstore and see themselves on books,” Shiloh said. “They’re learning that there are so many books about them, about their lives, and that makes a big difference.”

Shiloh’s model is poised to become the bookstore of the future.

“I know people think bookstores are going away,” she said. “But I think for the younger kids, a book still makes a difference. And with parents, I think they really like using a book when they read to their children. It’s just different. As long as that stays the way it is, then I think we’ll be OK.”