...is the process by which we create, discover, learn and grow with those we cherish most.


for the love of books....

As a child, my library card was my passport. I could go anywhere I wanted outside of Queens - and I often did. One of my most favorite childhood pastimes was going to the library with Wagma on Sundays. We had the same routine every week; stop at the corner store for bazooka gum, cross under the subway and pass streets lined with stores selling electronics, shoes, furniture and pizza. 20 blocks later, we'd reach the corner phonebooth, call home and hang up after just one ring to let Mom know we were ok- but mainly because that was bazooka money we could each be chewing on our way home.

In elementary school, my librarian, Nina Rubin, was my favorite soul in the entire school. It was because of her that Baboushka and the Three Kings came into my life. I read this story like a fireside chat but in front of 300 elementary students on center stage at Thursday's assembly. It was one of the best and worst moments of my entire 4th grade. I choked and forgot my lines. It felt like eternity and when the ground wouldn't open up to let me in, I managed to find a page in my head to start again. Luckily, it was a climactic page - and my voice soared like a wave to the back of the auditorium - making it look like it was part of my production. I won P.S. 91's storytelling contest that year - but looking back - I actually won so much more...


One of the very first encounters I had with Aaron was actually in my 6th grade English class. Our assignment was to write, illustrate and publish our own books. I'm a stick-figure kind of artist myself, so when my story called for a little girl getting upset for losing her nickel - I turned around and asked Aaron to help me draw her head. He graciously did and we became instant friends. I later discovered that Aaron has a natural talent for writing himself - poetry with tasteful unexpected humor ... like mashed potatoes falling from the sky. I married him as fast as I could....

Books are the foundations to so much in life - and for me personally - a platform for infinite dreams and adventures. After having Ava - I have found myself back in love with children's books more than ever - reading, collecting and making trips to the library weekly... As a mom, one of the most joyful experiences for me is when I read to Ava and Noah and watch their faces change with my voice. Trips to the bookstore or library always supersede trips to the toy store - and I can only hope this preference grows with age.

Reading Corner

What'cha reading?

library basket

In the meantime, I want to share with you our collection of books we've either borrowed or bought for our library - with periodic reviews so that you will hopefully find yourself reading it with a loved one. Please take a moment and share your favorite childhood book with us using this post or sending me an email...

Quick notes:

Create a reading corner in comfortable places throughout your home. Ava and Noah both have reading corners in their own rooms. Ava has her own bookshelf that is as tall as she is so that she can get to them even when I'm not around. These are filled with her Maisy books - her favorite storybook character - and board books. She also has another bookshelf in her closet, where we shelved classics we've collected for her for the coming years. Noah has a basket on the floor with cloth and board books he can flip through. I also keep a basket of books in the formal and family rooms for enjoying as a group after dinner...

Designate a basket or crate just for your library books and make it a habit to store and separate them here. This will avoid last-minute searches for your books that were due yesterday. And more recently, we've tried narrowing down our check-out limit to only 5 books so that it is easier for us to identify whether a library book got shelved or buried under the sofa.

I highly recommend setting up a book wish-list through Barnes & Nobles or Amazon - it's a perfect and ideal way to grow your library - and get the books you want and will enjoy reading to your kids. Plus, it solves the dilemma of friends & family not knowing what to get your child.

Half-Price Books carries many of the classic books all children should have - at half the price. I suggest looking for oldies here before hitting any of the big-chain stores. It also helps if you keep a running list in your planner so you know what to look for when you go.


  1. Excellent blog entry. I haven't been around many kids so I don't know how other parents infuse literature into their little ones lives, but for us it is a daily routine. Ava begs us to read book before nap times, before bedtime, and every chance she gets in between. One thing we learned is to never force a book on your kid. If they lose interest, simply tuck the book away and start later. If you force them to sit and listen to you read the book, they will start to resent them and that is obviously not good.

    Noah is starting to gain alot of interest in books now also. He holds the little ones fine, albeit sometimes they are upside down... but he'll get the hang of it really soon. With a big sister like Ava, he might not have a choice in the matter.

    oh... and by the way-
    One of the very first gifts I got for Zarlacht when we were dating was a 'Baboushka and the Three Kings' I ordered off of Amazon.com. I think that (more than the drawing and quirky poetry) was the real reason she married me.

  2. I remember receiving that gift so vividly - I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it.

    But that's the thing with Aaron - gifts are always thoughtful - and ordering it online more than 10 years ago - before I even knew it could be done - was amazing to me. Especially since I didn't ask for it... he just knew how much I loved books and how this one impacted my childhood.

    And yes... Aaron had me at -Baboushka!

  3. Well, Zarlacht, you know you're hitting a soft spot in my heart with this entry.

    I also have a 6th grade book reading story. Our school set up a reading competition, which I took part in. Basically, kids had to log how many hours they read, and who ever read the most won an award.

    Well, I started reading the "Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe" and fell in love with it. I remember how impressed my parent's had been that I had joined the contest and found a book to keep me going (even at a young age, I was known for starting something and not following through). So, for Christmas they bought me the complete Narnia series. And lets just say I kicked that reading competitions’ butt (I'd log a couple of hours every night, not even wanting to come out and eat dinner).

    So at the end of the year, all the students were sitting in the auditorium (you know the one: shiny, tiled floor, lined with bright-colored, plastic chairs) all facing the tiny stage, where many a young actors and actresses were born (me being on of them). And the principal was giving out the yearly awards: best attendance, best overall student...well he called out my name, and I simply sat there stunned, I had completely forgotten about the book competition (and I was probably day dreaming at the time). He calls my name out again, so I have to make the long trek up to the front of the auditorium. I remember whispering to the braniac girl Michelle that I had tied with in the competition (and whom I would later have a crush on in the next few years), I whispered, "If I would've known we were going to have to stand up here, I wouldn't have entered the competition."

    But looking back now, am I so glad I did that reading competition. Here's a quick assessment of how one little reading competition affected my life today:

    -my parents found I loved to read
    -they started buying me books
    -as I got older I started asking for Stephen King's books. (my parents were very strict about what I watched on TV, I remember to this day getting in trouble for watching the PG-13 movie Dirty Dancing (while at the age of 13, Corb still gets a good chuckle out of that) but as long as I had a book in my hand my parents were cool
    -Stephen King books led to my own short story writing
    -in college I took multiple creative writing classes, majored in Journalism and minored in English
    -the year after Corbin and I married, I wrote a script for a psychological thriller, for Project Greenlight (the Matt Damon and Ben Afleck script competition).
    -Corb and I decided to make the movie ourselves
    -the film led to Corbin and I buying a professional grade video camera and our love for filming friends' weddings
    -two years after writing the script "Beyond Doors" Corbin and I quit Corporate America to film weddings full time and haven't looked back

    One of my favorite children's books is "Go Dog Go!" I can still hear my grandmother, Ma Jane's, raspy voice reading it to me before bed. Her storytelling was one of my favorite things about staying with her and my grandfather.

    “The Book Blog Entry”
    by Dave (a novella)

  4. Zarlach:
    Great post, and all those ideas about storing the books right at hand... Zoe found her way to the bookshelf in her room, by pulling a little chair next to the table and then stepping on it and catching the book she wants. We didn't mean to keep her away from her books, it was an accident that we set that table there. But she still found her way through it. Good girl! She loves us to read her. But that is just now. Until a few months ago, she wouldn't let you read, she was always pulling the pages, and talking out loud so you couldn't (literally) hear yourself reading. Now she is growing... She loves books.
    Books have been a huge part of my life. I read so many that I couldn't even tell. I spent hours (I am not exagerating) reading. I even took a book to the dinning table, and hid it down it, so my mother couldn't see it. I did the same at school. But they caught me and punished me. For reading!!!
    "Anne of Green Gables" was my most beloved book. Ever. After that came Nabokov, and the list goes on and on... I will have to post about this!

  5. Dave - what a journey! To think it all started with the "Lion, The Witch and the Wadrobe" - I had no idea! What made you choose this book?

    Kudos to your parents for seeing your passion and encouraging it! I hope one day I will do the same for Ava and Noah and see what it is they are passionate about - and not what I think they are...

    I look at that list launched by that reading competition and feel so proud of you - having been a small part of your later milestones and seeing you in action[movie-making and now professional videography] I can't say enough about how beautifully you have brought your imagination to life by producing great work - everyday.

  6. Julie - I LOVE Anne of Green Gables. It was the only reason for me to watch PBS - a public station here in the US that airs educational programming. My father would make us watch the news - hated it. Until Anne with an "e" came on and I was hooked. She was one of those inspiring characters in my life to pursue writing! How ironic that you mentioned her - I forgot about it completely...

    Are there any children's books you'd recommend for Zoe and Ava's age?

  7. Oh, yes. Anne was my one and only female love as a little girl. I just dreamed about being not just like her, but actually being HER. Can you imagine? And all those imaginative descriptions of the world around her? I did that same thing! So I felt close to her. I read four of her books. Many, waaay many times. I should read them again now.
    Zoe loves "Goodnight moon" the only book that I can think that you have there. A lovely lady, mama of my american friend, gave her this one, in spanish. And then, we have a special one called "Federico", but it is from Argentina (I have a badge with it on my blog's sidebar). It's fantastic. And simple.
    I will be revisiting her bookself so I can see if I find something else to recomend.
    She also has some classics, like Little Prince, although it's too much for her age. But we browse through it from night to night.

  8. It is wonderful to hear Eva likes Maisy books. One of the first cartoons Huda was watching was maisy.
    It was a great experience the first time I took the kids to the library. Roya was running around. Huda loved the idea of having her own card.

    The past couple of year I started reading log for my kids.
    I guess I have tried and experience it all from Children’s book of the month clubs, books we got from my sister, garage sales, to books I printed from online sites.
    The best place is the library. I make a trip every week. I have more time to look around if the kids are not with me.
    Thanks God we have 2 libraries very close to our house.

    For Huda’s first trip oversea, I bought The Berenstains bears (my every day book).
    She loved it, in the plan was looking at the pictures over and over again.
    I love The Berenstain Bear Books. It covers wide range of topics, from potty training, to pacifier, to sharing, everyday life subjects.

    I totally agree with Aaron, that you should never force a book on your kids.
    Some days they are sleepy, tired, just plan playful and not paying attention.
    If I sense they are not into it, we skip and make up for it some other time.

    Another thing I am trying with my kids is to ask them question after reading the book.
    What was it all about? I am not suggesting you should have a 30-minute book review with your kids.
    But to have few minutes discussing or explain things for them.

    It’s so amazing that once you are a parent you turn to your own childhood, or upbringing as a first resource.
    When I was young in Kabul, during winter there was no school.
    During the night we heard those old Persian Folkloric Stories told by family members.
    I seem to come up with my own version of the Story of white goat and fox (bozeek chenny Wa Roba). I tell it in half English, half Persian my kids love it. I wish one day I can find a book about those Persian Folkloric Stories.

    Happy Reading

  9. Nadia

    I just did a search on Amazon.com and came up with this...


    I don't know if it would be worth looking in to, but i'm sure you can find some good books online. Check eBay too for the sellers that are overseas!

    Good luck!

  10. Huda loves Maisy?! How wonderful!! I didn't realize Maisy was so popular until Christmas came around and all Ava asked for was Maisy books - which wasn't easy to find. But luckily, my book wish list I set up for her online at Barnes & Nobles was a success - and she was able to get the books she wanted as a gift. That is so great to hear she loves Maisy! I wonder how long this phase will go on.

    Yesterday, Ava didn't want to leave camp because she wanted to read their books. I told her we had books at home. She sighed and said, "those are Maisy books. Not this one."

    I smiled and told her we could go to the library and get new ones. Imagine that! She still reads Maisy at bedtime though...

    I remember Berenstain Bears when I was a kid! Those are really good. I'm going to look for those next time I'm at Half Price.

    I love how you mentioned Persion Folklore - in fact, my Mom has this one story she use to tell us when we were little. Roshana grew up loving it. Mom suggested we retell this story and get it published - it's so good. It's about 3 goats? Angak, Bangak, and Korelesangak.... ;)

  11. Zarlacht:
    I found tow more books I added to my sidebar, the one of the tree has no words at all, and it shows the development of the four seasons with a tree, a squirrel and a family of birds. It's amazing. Zoe loves it dearly.
    The other one, I don't have exactly that one, but we have two others from the same author, and they are beautifully drawn.


Thanks for sharing - I will respond to your comment here as well so check back! xo


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