To continue yesterday’s theme: downtown Knoxville isn’t just for aging hipsters and college students. I sometimes hear people say, “I’d love to live downtown, but it’s not really a place to raise children.” Yes. It. Is. Not only are there many, many child-centered activities downtown, but there are great neighbors who will know your child and you.
In some ways living in this small city very much resembles the place many of us think we remember as a child: being surrounded by the village and they all knew your mother. Yes, it’s a city and that means there are all kinds of people, but compared to most neighborhoods in surrounding areas, it feels more like the spirit of a small town from years ago.
Yesterday we looked at the great monthly live program at WDVX (needs to be live every week) and today we’ll look at another regular event at Union Avenue Books: Children’s Storytime with Caryn Schafer. I walked straight from one into the other on Saturday and found lots of engaged, happy children and parents at each. Caryn debuted at Union Avenue Books with “The Incredible Book Eating Boy.” It was such a success, the store has set the next reading September 8 and plan to make it an every-other-week event.
It’s great to hear a very good children’s book read by a good reader and watch the spell-bound faces of the children. Caryn so obviously loves children’s books that her enthusiasm easily translates to the children. When children know you love what you are sharing with them they are prone to love it, too. Talk down to them or try to sell them tripe and they see through you in a New York minute. Caryn has a collection of over 700 children’s books, so she obviously has a passion for them. She’s taken her passion to a new blog, Three Books a Night, which focuses on the topic and includes reviews, suggestions and general discussion of children’s books.
A graphic designer by training, Caryn has dreams of publishing her own children’s illustrations and is drawn to the artistic work of other such as Oliver Jeffers, the author featured for her first reading. She also gave the children information about the author, including the fact that he eats his cereal dry. This resulted in the two snacks provided: cheerios and broccoli. Broccoli because eventually (spoiler alert!) the book eating boy takes to actually reading the books whilst eating broccoli. Hard choice, cheerios and broccoli. I’ll let you guess which got hit the hardest by the little tykes.
It’s worth a mention that the downtown branch of the public library, Lawson-McGhee, also has several storytimes for children during the week, including one in the evening, so children can definitely get their literary on downtown.
While I’m on the topic of Union Ave. Books, I’ll wish them a late happy birthday. All the businesses in the Daylight Building have recently turned one-year-old. No mean feat in the business world these days. Modest celebrations marked the occasion, including an in-store concert from Jack Rentfro and an all-star lineup. Jack seems to be in a pitched battle with R.B. Morris for the title of “House Band” for the book store.
I also recently dropped by for a book signing by thirteen-year-old author Birke Baehr who has written and published,Birke on the Farm which delves into the organic farming movement. Not bad: Children listening to books and children writing them. Is Union Avenue Books the nexus of Knoxville’s literary future. I wouldn’t bet against it. See, not only is this a good place for children, you are really harming your child if you don’t expose him or her to the great musical and literary ambiance of downtown Knoxville!
So, drop in and buy Birke’s book or any of the thousands of others in the store or drop in for the next children’s story time. And the next time somebody says downtown is no place for a child, now you can set them straight.