Vancouver Kidsbooks is the quintessential Children’s bookstore. Phyllis Simon opened her first Kidsbooks in Kitsilano in 1983. Since then stores have followed in North Vancouver and Surrey. The constant has been knowledgeable and friendly staff who exude enthusiasm for matching books with kids. I became an International Reading Association member (now International Literacy Association) as a first year teacher. My administrator, Jack Corbett, at Dormick Park invited me on the staff trek to Schou Centre in Burnaby for a LOMCIRA session (local council of IRA). He promised it would be fun and we’d all learn something along the way. I learned early on that Phyllis Simon was the person we depended on to provide a wide array of high quality books to bring reading and writing to life for our students. She generated a lot of excitement at events where she set up a table.
When my kids were young, we would make the trek from the suburbs to line up for author events sponsored by Kidsbooks in the old Hollywood Theatre, book signings in the Kits store and to spend the day shopping for the very best read. Fiscal restraint never included Kidsbooks because the store and staff were able to inspire such enthusiasm for the possibilities. It was a favourite place to pick out birthday and Christmas gifts. Phyllis Simon’s support for parents and educators has not waned over the years.
Each year, Elementary Administrators in public schools in Vancouver, host an event featuring a great recent publication of a picturebook. The author and/or illustrator is invited to talk about the writing process to student representatives, librarians and an administrator from every school in the Vancouver School Board. Each student goes back to school with a special addition for their school library and the author’s voice in their head. This year, Phyllis Simon, continued as she has every year to select some of the finest new publications in British Columbia for our consideration. Choosing one is always hard. This year I have decided that I’m going to review these books for Inquire2Inspire because I can see a place for each and every one of her choices in my work and play with children. You just might too.
If you are from out of town, be sure to include one of the Kidsbooks stores in your travels. If you are an International Literacy Member, an educator, a parent or a lover of children’s literature, you will not be disappointed. Even if you don’t run into Phyllis, there will be a knowledgeable staff member to open some possibilities for your consideration. I promise!