One Hip Town. Two Bookstores. And Lots of Great Books for Kids!
Here in Nashville, we have at least two exceptional bookstores: Logos Bookstore and Parnassus Books. I say that partly because they are nestled among other shops, little book nooks among the dry cleaners and donut shops and schools and tall-spired churches that make up their neighborhood. They are not stores that dominate their shopping centers, which makes them feel more connected to it all somehow. Part of the charm, though, is of course the You’ve-Got-Mail sort of knowledgeable and friendly staff. They’ve read the books, they have opinions, and they are able to say what works and what doesn’t in the stories. And they just have great taste, which is probably why they’ve made it this far as independent bookstores.
Over the past week, I visited both of these veritable establishments and found some real Christmas jewels. And if you can make it yourself, PLEASE go! If you can’t, I hope they don’t mind that I’m sharing with you what a wonderful time I had, and some of the very best finds I made in their stores. And next time you’re in Nashville, I dare you to stop by and try to come away empty-handed!
Logos Bookstore. (They are currently working on their website, but you can contact them at 4012 Hillsboro Pike, Ste 6, Nashville, TN 37215 or (615) 297-5388.)
Ken Najar is the owner of Logos, a Christian bookstore, and he also happens to go to my church, Covenant Presbyterian, just up the hill. He and his wife homeschooled their own children here in Nashville, while working to make their bookstore a success. They sell not only to individuals who come in for gifts and seminary books, but they also have quite a niche in church Sunday School classes and even Christian schools. Their taste is usually Reformed, but they have a good sense of what books are within the pale of Christian orthodoxy and which aren’t. (It’s a Gospel Coalition kind of place…)
Perhaps most importantly to my kids, Logos is the bookstore “with the dog”– a beautiful wide-eyed puppy, Charlotte, who usually greets customers with a shy tail-wagging. Unfortunately, today Charlotte was off-duty, so my kids had to suffice with playing in the playhouse and browsing through all the books and knick-knacks to flip, push, shake and, yes, read. All this while Mommy went through the well-stocked New Release section with Ken and his helpers, getting their advice on what might interest me and who was published by whom and what other books they had written. A few books of note, some of which I plan to review soon: 1) Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith: a newly released biography of Gabby Douglas, 2) Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work Tim Keller’s new book on work, and 3) The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, which I LOVE and already own courtesy of my super-duper father-in-law.
Just when I thought I was done, Ken’s wife Cindy came in from lunch with the girls and I asked her, “What are you selling in kids’ books for Christmas this year?” She smiled a knowing smile, led me to the kids books and we dove right in:
- The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey with CD: Gift Edition: It’s an oldie but goodie, with a CD to boot. Classic illustrations reminiscent of Little House on the Prairie, and though the art is picture book quality, there is enough text here for middle readers to take a little time poring over it. A great addition to a family library. (Ages 6-10)
- One Special Night: The Christmas Story Pop-up Book: The illustrations in this book are of the Little People variety, very modern and kid-friendly. In other words, not my favorite. BUT, as a pop-up book, it puts my kids’ other pop-up books to shame. On each spread, one page is filled with normal illustrations and text, while the other page pops out into an entire frame of action and drama. By having a frame in front, it gives the book a solid, less fragile feel, and the frames–like frames around pictures on your living room wall–simply add a little class. (Ages 2-6)
- The Story of Christmas: Story Book Set and Advent Calendar: If your little ones like books, this is the advent calendar for you. Twenty-five short, ornament-sized picture books are inside the fold-out package, with illustrations in the vein of Tomi de Paolo. Just pop one out each night, read it, and then stick it on the tree. Cindy says the stories tell the Christmas story in a solidly Biblical way. (Ages 4-10)
- The Story of Christmas (Carry Me): For fidgety readers, here’s a storybook with a puzzle to do on each page. Plus it comes with a handle on top, to make it more portable. If you have trouble keeping up with puzzle pieces like we do, this is a great way to store the puzzles, and you can use the time doing puzzles to engage your child about the reading. What do you think Mary was thinking? How did she feel to be shut out of the inn? This is for little tykes, just learning how to do puzzles, so there doesn’t need to be a lot of meat here. Just have fun and use the story to talk about what Christmas is all about! (Ages 2-4)
- The Christmas Story: From the Gospel According to St. Luke from the King James Bible: This version is from 2002, and it’s no longer for sale on Amazon (except from other sellers), but the art is pretty amazing. And because the text is from the KJV, it’s a great way to give kids a taste of Shakespeare’s and perhaps their grandparents’ Bible. Interestingly, I found two other KJV versions at Parnassus, so there seems to be a trend toward helping kids access the older, poetic language. Very cool. (Ages 2-8)
There were others of course. Probably the biggest kids’ gift book seller was, not surprisingly, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd Jones. And they had sold out of Patricia Pingry’s small board book, The Story of Christmas, which helps kids understand that we give gifts at Christmas because God gave the gift of His Son. There was one really cool book which included a pop out nativity scene, but alas, I neglected to write down the name of it. And of course, she showed me Paul L. Meier’s historical Christmas book, and I meant to check out God Gave Us Christmas, which looks so cute, but…eventually, the kids needed their snack time! So we bid adieu, and made the long trek back home, while visions of great Christmas books danced in our heads.
Next week, I plan to give you the scoop from Parnassus, where I found several darling books and one I couldn’t resist for my oldest: a Quentin Blake treatment of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol from 2011. Til then, shop these great businesses if you can, and if you can’t, why not support our blog by clicking through any of our book links to Amazon?
Do you have any great bookstores in your area I should know about if we come to visit?