The Voracious Reader, a children’s bookshop in Larchmont, is Westchester’s very own “Shop Around the Corner.” If you don’t remember the reference, the latter was the name of the charming children’s bookstore run by Meg Ryan’s character in the 1998 movie “You’ve Got Mail.”
The Voracious Reader, which is carefully curated by owner Francine Lucidon, has books for every age, from touch-and-feel board books for babies to beautifully illustrated picture books for the preschool set and easy readers for elementary aged kids.
But the Voracious Reader isn’t just a place to buy a book — it’s a place to bond with your children over books. “Think of books as a way to share an experience with your child,” says Lucidon. “You’re beginning a conversation about books, which is how you have a conversation with them about the world.”
You can buy books for your kids just about anywhere these days, even superstores like Costco, but Lucidon’s Voracious Reader offers something few booksellers can offer: expertise.
In August, I popped in to the Voracious Reader looking for a book for my nephew who was anxious about his first day of kindergarten — “You have to get him Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten,” Lucidon (above) told me. “It’s about a little boy whose mom is more nervous for school than he is. It’s beautifully illustrated and funny.” She was right. A few months before, while looking for a special book to bring home to my 2.5 year old, Lucidon had me read him Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons in the store; it’s now one of his favorite books.
Lucidon, an incredibly sweet children’s librarian type, opened the Voracious Reader five years ago after spending the previous decade homeschooling her kids. “We spent our days in bookstores and libraries,” she says. “Books were a part of our family. Every single room in our house was filled with them.”
In 2007, she held a garage sale at her New Rochelle home to sell some of her children’s books. “It looked like a bookstore,” she jokes. One mother came with two young children in tow and Lucidon watched as the mother read book after book to her kids. Lucidon was reminded of how special it was to snuggle and read to her own children — and how significant it was in their development. “I was moved by this profound sense to mentor the next generation of readers,” she says. She opened the Voracious Reader several months later. “We got so many love notes on opening day,” she says. “People were so welcoming — they kept saying thank you.”
Today, her shop hosts free weekly story hours for young children. She’s expanded into the space next door and opened a lovely cafe offering pots of tea, strawberry lemonade, brownies and other sweet treats. The bookshop hosts a variety of events, from book clubs for young adults to book-themed birthday parties to a grandparents book club (grandparents pay $25 and Lucidon will carefully handpick and send one book a month to kids for six months). Lucidon even stocks a shelf of adult books for parents who want to pick up a book of their own.
Says Lucidon: “We’re not just about selling books. We’re about establishing a culture of books.”
The Voracious Reader, 1997 Palmer Avenue Larchmont; 914-630-4581