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Chelsea Elward, Evanston-raised and current resident, former elementary school teacher, wife and mom of two children, recently added another title to her impressive résumé, that of business owner. Booked, a new children’s bookstore at 506 Main St., held its official opening on Oct. 20 and 21.
Booked will serve bibliophiles who have children in their lives. The child-sized door embedded within the adult-sized door greets visitors as they enter. Adults might feel a pang of jealousy for being too large to use it comfortably. The door was designed and painted by Diana Sudyka, a well-known local children’s book illustrator.
On hand are signed copies of “Sometimes Rain,” with words by Meg Fleming and illustrations by Ms. Sudyka.
The store is bright, happy and organized. There are comfortable chairs to cozy up with and read, a stuffed elephant rocker to ride and books for every age group and interest. Chalkboard labels at the top of each shelf structure identify that section. There are books for babies prone to gumming their books, picture books, graphic novels, series books, young adult books, Spanish-language books, classic books, adult books, and hot-off-the-presses new books. Ms. Elward says she is happy to special-order books by request for customers who do not see what they seek.
Ms. Elward’s love of books seems to know no bounds. Looking up, visitors see her self-designed book chandelier; looking down by the baseboard, they see the faux mouse-hole where Claris lives when she is not in Paris. At the register are cheeky cards and pins, book-related tchotchkes and clever gift items. Near the front door on the right as one enters is the community section where kids call out their favorite books. The store’s blue-and-pink logo, designed by Ms. Elward’s twin brother, bears a hidden message.
Ms. Elward says she was inspired to open Booked after a visit to Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis. Booked combines her love of children, reading, teaching, and community. Building community is an essential part of her business plan, and the online calendar is starting to fill up with storytelling times and special events. There are also two “Hot Mamas” groups, where new moms can bring their babies and meet other moms so they do not feel isolated. Tot Mamas meet Thursday mornings at 9:30 and Baby Mamas at 11:30.
In addition to her desire to foster a love of reading, Ms. Elward says she is motivated to share her love of books as a way to teach compassion and empathy, broaden awareness of others and expand a reader’s sense of consciousness. She has read most of the books in the store and offers thoughtful suggestions for any reader, no matter how eclectic. Booked is a store whose arrival is long overdue in Evanston. Visitors can go to BookedEvanston.com or check out the fun at 506 Main St.