I recently had the pleasure of meeting Shara in person, and I connected with her instantly. I think partly I was a little star struck by her. She seemed to so easily manage her three children, and I’m honestly as terrified at the idea of baby number three as I am excited. I think I spent that first encounter begging her for tips and taking super detailed notes. I’m so happy she asked me to join her today on the blog. I enjoy reading Palmettos and Pigtails, checking out her amazing craft ideas, and pinning her meal planning posts (don’t miss the recent freezer meals). And, I especially love her posts on where to go with children, whether it’s Disney World or closer to home at the Children’s Museum.
Lately, I’ve written a few posts about loving the place we live, which, to be fair, is not hard to do when you live in Charleston. So today, I thought we’d venture a little farther out of town, to quaint, downtown Summerville. On picturesque Main Street sits one of my own favorite places to go with my boys, and I’d love to share it with you.
But first, indulge me in a little reminiscing. I’m the sappy, sentimental type.
My mom read to my brother and me when we were younger, and she really encouraged us to read too. She would let me check out piles of books at the library, and she took me to the bookstore, no matter how tight our budget must have been, especially back then. I can even remember visiting a bookstore as early as 3, maybe 4. We lived in Turkey at the time, and were only there for a couple of years, so I can be confident that I was that young. I remember that this bookstore carried the Mr. Men & Little Miss books, a personal favorite. And, I loved Dr. Seuss at this age.
Naturally, reading is one of my most favorite things to do with my own boys. I want them to remember reading with me, just as I remember doing with my own mother.
So, just as my mother did with my brother and me, I take my boys to the library and let them check out the 25 book maximum. I try to select a few books while we’re here, but for the most part, I let Harrison pick the books that he wants. Sometimes, that means that I have to settle for a series of character books I’d rather pass on, but lately, it’s meant that I’m learning new things about dinosaurs. Did you know that the Brontosaurus is now called Apatosaurus? Or, that there is no such thing as a Pterodactyl? There is a Pterodactylus, but technically, it’s a Pterosaur and not a Dinosaur.
And, again as my mom did with us, we go to the bookstore. Here, I do make an effort to guide their selections, but I always let Harrison make the final decision. I’ve enjoyed slowly curating the boys’ library. Right now, we’re in a wonderful stage of picture story books, of books I loved from Reading Rainbow and books I remember my own librarian reading to us from her rocking chair each week in the school library. In the past, and out of convenience, I’ve picked up books at Barnes & Noble or on Amazon. More recently, though, I’ve discovered a little gem in an independent children’s bookshop.
Last week, Harrison and I made a trip to A Very Little Bookstore. We’ve been several times before, but always with baby Whitt, who has more fun pulling books off the shelf and making a general ruckus than he enjoys reading. I think it’s important to take my little one, but I wanted some one on one time with my oldest.
The owner, Natalie, is passionate about children’s literature and about children, and her enthusiasm is apparent in every aspect of her shop. She’s incredibly knowledgeable about the various authors and illustrators. So, her recommendations are always exactly what we need. She doesn’t recommend books in a “one size fits all” manner either, meaning she doesn’t simply recommend her own favorites and assume your child will love them too. She gets to know you and your child, and then she suggests books you’ll like. For example, her suggestions for my little boy are always very different than her recommendations for his bestie, Farris, even though they are both four. The more often you venture in, the better her recommendations. And, she hosts a children’s book club for older children. So cool, right?
Not only is Natalie wonderful, but the shop itself is a special, magical place too. The walls are lined with individual and unique book shelves that look collected, rather than matching book cases you typically see in chain stores or libraries. And, her own children are often at the shop, which I love. It feels cozy and homey and very family-friendly. It’s the kind of place one can comfortably grab a book of the shelf and read on the carpet or at one of the low kids tables. It’s truly a place a mom can feel comfortable letting her kids be kids and dive into books (sometimes literally). And, that’s what makes this store so unique. It is truly a children’s bookstore – designed for children.
This store may be little, but it is the gateway to a big, wide world. If you’re local to Summerville and haven’t been, it’s a must. And, if you’re in Charleston or Mt. Pleasant, it’s worth the drive. I promise. While you’re downtown, I suggest you finish your bookish afternoon off with a root beer float from Guerin’s Pharmacy or a hot cocoa from Single Smile Cafe.
Photos by Gray Benko at the quaint A Very Little Bookstore (with the exception of the last two).
Thanks for having me, and come visit me over at The Maypop!