As far as dedicated story-time show-running goes, Nick and I are just excited amateurs compared to the people who operate children’s bookstores. So we were humbled and thrilled to get some feedback from of these nationally-recognized institutions about how they put stories in front of young readers and which stories seem especially resonant. For an even closer look, you should visit them in person if you happen to be living in (or passing through) their corner of New York, Oregon, Michigan or Virginia.
Stories Bookshop + Storytelling Lab
Stories, Brooklyn’s children’s bookshop, operates with the conviction that a love of stories and storytelling is one of the surest lifelong gifts you can give your children. They offer Storytime six days a week, as well as a wide range of creative storytelling workshops for kids.
And they didn’t have to look too far afield to suggest one of their favorite picture books of 2018: Brooklyn-based author/illustrator Sophie Blackall just took home the Caldecott Medal for Hello Lighthouse, which Stories praises for the timeless, handmade beauty that draws the reader completely into its created world.
Planted joyfully in Ashlandia (known to less imaginative mapmakers as Ashland, Oregon), the staff at TreeHouse Books were also proud to recommend a local author, Emily Winfield Martin. I really enjoyed the way The Wonderful Things You Will Be reminds me that reading books to my children isn’t just about indulging their curiosity. It’s also an opportunity for a parent to engage in tender speculation about all the potential that their child’s future holds.
Barbara Sims, founder and owner of Storybook Village of Pentwater, passed along a favorite selection from her “Travel the World” section: The Girl With a Brave Heart, written by Tehran-born Israeli pop star, Rita Jahanforuz, with exquisite illustrations by Vali Mintzi. The author masterfully relocates the setup of a familiar Cinderella narrative to Tehran but ties it up with a surprising ending that helps children understand the power of listening to others. The publisher, Barefoot Books, is well-represented at Storybook Village, since titles from their list tend to be perfect for interactive storytelling—Barbara’s favorite thing!—and to feature authentic stories collected from around the world.
Hooray for Books
As their name might suggest, Hooray for Books has plenty of literary enthusiasm to go round. It overflows the confines of their Alexandria store in the form of partnerships with over seventy-five schools, but they also still found time to send us a stacked list of recommendations. I especially enjoyed the sentiments of Everywhere, Wonder by Matthew Swanson, Illustrated by Robbi Behr. I personally love books that stretch children’s imaginations by pairing the far-flung wonders of the wider world with the sublime pieces of everyday life. And from the pyramids of Egypt to a lost balloon, the book has just that kind of range.