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Reading Is Front and Center at Katonah Bookshop

Little Joe’s boosts Read to Me Week, gathers yarn, knitted goods to celebrate new book for children.

Read to Me Week, a national program designed to encourage reading aloud to children, has been enthusiastically embraced by Little Joe’s Books in Katonah.

A table of “our favorite read-aloud books” has been a fixture this week for anyone wishing to come in and read a story to a child, said owner Jennifer Cook. A highlight of the week was the regular Thursday afternoon story hour, featuring Stephanie Mandela, the new children’s librarian at the Katonah Village Library.

Mandela, filling in for vacationing “Miss Kathy,” led eight attentive youngsters (and accompanying adults) through a series of stories and songs, including the Hello Song and Goodbye Song, in which she mentioned each child by name. Stories included The Line Up Book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, I Want My Hat Back, No, David, and A Sick Day for Amos McGee.

Little Joe’s, which Cook emphasized was the only exclusively children’s bookstore in Northern Westchester, opened in October on the second floor of 25 Katonah Ave. It sits atop NoKa Joe’s (a NOrth KAtonah derivation inspired by Manhattan’s SoHo district), a shop featuring fair-trade organic coffee that Cook opened seven years ago. The establishment offers “coffee, gifts, sweets and eats,” according to the two-sided business card it shares with the bookstore.

Little Joe’s monthly calendar lists a variety of free events for children and families geared to helping youngsters develop a love of reading. In addition to the Thursday story hours the listings include author and illustrator visits, a reading dog named Whoopsie Daisy and celebrations of such occasions as National Pig Day (March 1), the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts (March 12) and National “Joe” Day (March 27).

Little Joe’s is collaborating with Katonah Yarn (120 Bedford Road) to decorate 25 Katonah Ave. with knitted items and yarn this weekend as part of a contest celebrating a newly published children’s book, Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen. The book tells the story of a girl named Annabelle, who knits all sorts of items from a magic box of yarn that never runs out. An evil archduke seizes the box but, because of his bad intentions, he finds it empty. He throws it away in disgust and Annabelle eventually recovers it and continues knitting.

The contest invites bookstores to decorate themselves with yarn and knitted items and submit photos of the results. The winner will receive an original illustration of the store by Klassen.

Cook’s shop windows already sport a variety of sweaters, hats and other items. Decorating will swing into high gear Sunday and Monday; meanwhile, anyone interested is invited to bring hand-knitted goods (which will be returned in early March) and leftover balls of yarn (which will be donated to the women at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility) to the shop by Saturday. As of Thursday 1,000 balls of yarn were on hand.

A thank-you party for participants will be held at Little Joe’s at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29.

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