The Voracious Reader, and its attached tea shop, A Proper Cup, turns 10 this year. The Larchmont, New York, bookstore is geared toward babies, young adults, and any book-buying adults in tow. Here, owner Francine Lucidon talks about her philosophy for creating a destination bookstore for families.
How would you describe the Voracious Reader to the uninitiated?
We are primarily a children’s bookstore that takes a decidedly nonpedagogical approach to reading, with a strong emphasis on children’s innate desire to learn joyfully. Walk through the door and be charmed by the carefully selected current offerings as well as a nostalgic array of beloved classics. More than just a spot to buy books, our store is a hub for families wishing to create and immerse their families in book culture, with book-related gifts, reading clubs, and events for all ages. We even have an attached tea shop, A Proper Cup, where kids and parents can take a much-needed break from busy schedules and connect with one another over books.
If the Voracious Reader were a religion, what would be its icons and tenets?
Perhaps a child on a pedestal? Not towering above adults, mind you, but simply achieving an equal plane, regardless of time/space coordinates. Enlightenment would occur upon realizing that children ought to be taken seriously and helped in the ways they want to be helped. The only tenet might be “Find the Joy.” Devotees would be helped to truly listen to their children and watch for their eyes to light up. Inspiration would come from sharing that joy and helping children follow their interests and passions. The role of adults would be that of Trusted Advisor who would continually offer their best ideas while children would have the agency to accept or reject those ideas. Learning would not be seen as something that only occurs within institutionally mandated walls but rather as something each of us may pursue with joy and appetite as the most intrinsically delightful aspect of being human.
Which was your favorite event and why?
Given that we’re all about the celebration of books, events play a large part in connecting us with our community. We’ve enjoyed mega-events—one with Dame Julie Andrews with hundreds of people lined up in the freezing cold and a series of events celebrating Newbery winners complete with Newbery medal–topped cupcakes. Then there are the admitted failures. For example, we mistakenly booked a YA panel on the same evening as the town’s Memorial Day parade. One die-hard fan ran out in the middle of the (mostly empty) presentation and returned immediately after her march was completed.
What trends are you noticing among young readers?
The hybrid novel/graphic novel is really booming for young middle graders. Books like The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett are very strong right now. Among middle-grade girls, sad books are often appreciated. One young customer asked specifically for “something to make me cry.” Nonfiction and STEM- (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) related books are doing well among both girls and boys. Time travel and history also seem to be generating a good deal of interest as well as books with popular role models and/or feminist themes.
What are some of the bookstore’s top current handsells?
Popular picture books include the hilarious Penguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith and Mo Willems’ Nanette’s Baguette. We love handselling Abby Hanlon’s delightful Dory Fantasmagory series. Some other current top sellers include Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and the graphic novel series Lumberjanesby Noelle Stevenson, Brooke Allen, and others.
Karen Schechner is the Vice President of Kirkus Indie.