Meet Kyla, a mom and also exceptional woman who has founded independent publishing group Homegrown Books specialised in providing “reading material as rich as your child’s imagination.” With the never ending search for the best books for kids, I came across Kyla’s company and was inspired by the series of Board Books that inspire young children to learn how to read. With so many tools and books for kids on the market, Homegrown Books offers an excellent alternative for enriching new readers.
Are you a Mom? Yes! I have two boys, one is 12 and the other is 21.
What are your ups and the downs of being a Mom? I think I’m constantly dealing with the classic problem of trying to balance work, family and taking care of myself. But I’m so grateful to have all of these things in my life!
What motivates you? Where do you find your inspiration? I’m motivated to create beautiful and interesting books for kids who are learning how to read. I want them to feel respected by the material and supported in their reading journey. I want children to be exposed, not just to beautiful art, but interesting art that makes them ask questions and inspires them. My husband and his whole family are artists and we go to a lot of galleries and museums. We try to take advantage of living in NYC, the level of creativity and craftsmanship here is something to marvel at and is deeply inspiring to me.
Why/How did you create Home Grown Books? I am a reading specialist by trade and I worked for many years with children to support their growth as readers. When I was working with kids privately, I found it difficult to buy reading materials for the earliest reader that was compelling while supporting their learning process. Kids know when something is not really interesting. While teaching, I met a young woman who is an artist and a teacher. She had also noticed the same lack of educationally sound and beautiful reading materials available so she began making sweet books for her students to practice reading. We decided to develop a set that would fulfil this need and that became our very first book pack, The Play Pack.
What is your dream for Home Grown Books? Oh, good one! My dream is that families from all around the world will realize they have more interesting options for early readers. That educators and parents will explore organic learning and get away from workbooks! I want families to have access to our books and read together, read alone, share books with each other and connect through this.
Do you have any favorite books for children? for adults? So many! That’s a really tough question. I guess it depends on what it’s for, there are so many great stories! I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction books recently and just finished New Slow City. Especially in New York City it is challenging to find real community connections. The slow food movement from Italy brought together this philosophy in everything: shopping local, eating local, connecting with each other over real, homemade meals. It resonated with me and makes me think we need to slow down how we educate our children too. We should promote kids playing in nature, having beautiful toys and books without branded characters on them, adults being available and really paying attention and having real conversations with kids. We could change everything! I love so many children’s books! I find myself returning to Maurice Sendak and other books from my childhood. There are a host of new books coming out that are so beautiful, poignant and touching, “The Conductor” by Laetitia Devernay is a personal favorite. There’s also many publishers that are producing stunning books like Enchanted Lion Books. Once we find gems like Enchanted Lion we become huge fans, they truly inspire us!
What are your bestsellers at Home Grown Books? People have been responding really well to our board books, specifically “In My Garden” and “Night Light”. Our two new board book releases, “Air” and “What do you see?”, are also receiving a lot of positive feedback and great sales which we’re excited about.
Do you have any tips for children that are learning how to read? So many! Our website has a page full of resources for parents and educators who are teaching their children or students how to read. It includes videos of useful tactics and references to helpful online tools that support the reading process. And buy our books when they are little- they will be reading before you know it!
What are your must-haves for the entire family (for dad, mom and the kids), whether it be beauty, fashion, accessories, books, websites, magazines, etc.? Comfortable shoes, a deck of cards and any good book!
What are some good spots to visit in your hometown for the family? for Moms and or Dads? NYC has so many incredible places, it’s hard to pick. My family enjoys places like the Frying Pan, which is actually a boat docked off the west side highway that contains a restaurant. Adults can drink and kids can run around the underbelly of the boat and see all of it’s workings. My kids loved that! Any place where parents can imbibe and kids can be themselves are our favorite!
Thank you Kyla for sharing a bit more about your personal life and also for inspiring us with your books!
This post is also available in: French