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Finding Joy In Children's Books Pt. 2

Where were we? Oh yes, 2020. That was going to be my year to do all the things. My literacy business was going to explode!

I didn't know how it would explode, but I knew it was going to happen. I started the year off connecting with local organizations and building my storytime calendar. I was loving it! I got to connect with children and caregivers, doing what I brought me joy.

I spent much of February 2020 very sick, so I wasn't able to do as much as I had wanted. I am pretty sure that I have never been so ill, no one could figure out what was wrong (I saw five doctors over a months time). In hindsight it is clear, I was one of the early people to get Covid-19. As I started to get better, early March rolled around and that is when the world stopped.

Well, dang, I had all these plans for connecting, sharing and engaging through stories and now that wasn't happening. I pivoted quickly with all the other book ladies and started helping those who were now suddenly forced to be a home. Parents and caregivers were desperate for things to keep their children occupied (myself included, my daughter had just turned three a few weeks before the world closed), to have resources for virtual and home schooling. 2020 *was* shaping up to be a very busy time in my life, just not as I had expected.

Helping in the only way I could, through literacy, was what kept me sane through those dark days. I still think back and can't believe some of the things we all went through. I am definitely still processing the past three years, another blog post on that one of these days.

As we all know, the 'flu' that we thought was making people sick was not the flu at all. It was much stronger and staying in was the safest option. Some decided to continue to be in person, but for the most part, everything stayed virtual. We all bought our cloth masks, then our paper masks, then our N95 masks (N94 if you couldn't afford the 95) and my favorite the KN94. We washed our groceries, crossed the street when someone was walking towards us, basically trusted no one. This was another time for books to the rescue. Books were not only a resource for school, they were an escape from what was happening in real life. My online bookshop was busier than it has ever been since.

Slowly, people started to emerge again, into the world. A world that definitely was not the same as it had been. One thing that stayed constant was my love for literacy and my hope to get my storytimes back up and running. Throughout 2020 and beyond, I connected with businesses and built trust within my community. By doing this, I was able to dip my toes back into the in-person storytelling world. I began Fridays at Hammer + Jacks In August of 2021.

Grateful for the friendship that I built with Hammer + Jacks, I began to share literacy in person again! I was SO happy to be with my people. We masked, social distanced and popped bubbles together. Every Friday, I knew that I would see my little friends and share stories and space. We all needed this connection and I was so grateful that I could bring something to a world that had thrown us all off a bit.

I was grateful to also have an outdoor space at Stay Little, one of my favorite women owned businesses. Having space to share stories in those transitional days of the pandemic was so important. Friendships and strong business bonds naturally developed too.

I slowly started to do storytime here and there, even a short stint at Taborspace. Until I finally landed at Moreland Presbyterian. I did storytime every week, three days a week, beginning the fall of 2021. Storytime slowly morphed into craft time and then into a space where children and their caregivers could come and be together in a space with the same friends every week. Those first months were a lot of me trying to figure out how I could make a class with my storytime, while incorporating sensory and art. My families have always been so collaborative and helpful in my journey. I don't know what I would have done without their grace as I navigated building my program.

I eventually moved into a 'real' classroom in the basement of Moreland Presbyterian and settled into a ten week schedule with my classes. I shared with the preschool upstairs, which my daughter also attended. What a dream! I loved my class, but I was always wanting to find my "home." I made sure to connect with any businesses that shared my vision and values as much as possible. This really cute concept play space opened in early 2022 called Playforest. I became friends with the owners and casually said, "if you ever find a larger space, I would LOVE to be a part of that!"

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