Bookstore turning heads

Author Bev Bos sells her favorite children’s books at new location on Vernon Street
By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein The Press-Tribune
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Ask Bev Bos what’s wrong with so many children’s books these days, and get ready to hear an earful. “‘A is for apple,’ ‘B is for ball’ – that’s so boring!” said Bos, the nationally known early childhood development speaker and the founder of Roseville Community Preschool. In other words, don’t expect any of those obviously didactic works at Turn the Page Press Inc., Bos’s children’s bookstore that opened last week at 213 Vernon St. Instead, parents and teachers will find books that encourage interaction, play and are “simply irresistible” to young minds, Bos said. “They’re just fun, wonderful books,” she said inside the shop this week. It’s all in keeping with the outspoken educator’s philosophy that has won her a legion of fans among parents and teachers: to “let children be children” by promoting play and artistic expression. Her workshops on childhood development have drawn thousands in all 50 states since the 1970s, while the preschool she founded has received national media attention for its emphasis on the primacy of “hands-off” play. A little-known gem located for years on Church Street, Turn the Page Press is aiming for a wider audience with the new spot. Bos got the idea for a children’s bookstore after being asked repeatedly at her lectures what books she recommended parents read to their kids. Bos, a mother of five and a children’s author herself, said many parents don’t know how to pick out good children’s books: “I think what they want is for it to teach – this is red, this is blue,” she said. “It’s boring.” So she started selling books she liked at her events, later operating Turn the Page Press, focusing mostly on catalog distribution, out of her garage. In the 1990s, the focus turned to Internet distribution as it moved to a site across from the railroad tracks on Church Street; sales floor space was limited, and visibility under the radar. The new site is bright, airy and comfortable, stocking more than 500 books personally selected by Bos, including four books she’s written and several by her collaborator and son-in-law, Michael Leeman. The larger space also allows the store to stock Bos-approved toys, CDs and DVDs and an expanded section of child-development titles. “This has always been a dream for us, for parents to be able to come here with their children,” said Bos, who has lived in Roseville since the 1950s. Still, in an era where the obituaries for independent bookstores could fill an warehouse, some might wonder whether the time is right to increase a brick-and-mortar presence. Andrew Bos, the bookstore’s manager (and Bev’s son), said Turn the Page already leverages the Internet for much of its sales – including through that alleged bookstore-killer, Amazon. But he said the physical store serves a purpose no Internet site can: to help customers find the perfect books, examine products and experience a sense of community with like-minded parents and educators. Bev Bos said she plans to host small-group workshops and special events at the store, something you can’t do online. “The small bookseller industry is still alive in America,” Andrew Bos said. – nathand@