‘Age Appropriate’ is Guiding Principle and Structure for Little One Books

LittleOneBooks_logo_160x267_1.jpgThe founding inspiration for online store Little One Books (littleonebooks.com) was Joan McCoy and Barney Cohen‘s quest for quality books, music and videos to share with their new granddaughter. The idea percolated for nearly two years before gelling into a purpose, resulting in four years of dedicated development that culminated in last April’s launch of the music-video-bookstore for ages zero to five.

“There are so many classics, we find, especially in the grandparents world,” says McCoy. “People remember books from their childhood and want to get them for their grandchildren.” Which is why Little One Books, while not ignoring the new Disney and “Dora” offerings, is focused more on providing customers “something a little bit different and unusual,” McCoy explains.

And it takes a unanimous two-thumbs-up from both partners for an item to make the select Little One Books list of titles.

With the books, for instance, McCoy explains, the criteria include great artwork and a well-written, compelling story. “We read each book and talked about it,” she says. And the child development specialist for their local library system – the Seattle Public Library – helped them vet their list and understand the behavior of children at different ages.

“Age appropriate” is the common theme among all lines of product. For music, “We want artists who write for children,” explains McCoy, noting that a lot of what’s out there is really for adults but just repackaged for children. Little One Books also carries classical music that’s appropriate for children — works that are not so complicated musically and that feature simpler instrumentation. To this aspect of Little One Books, Cohen brings the experience of his long career in the music business.

And the couple credits KIDS FIRST!’s own Ranny Levy for helping them develop the video selection. Videos must contain no violence, be educational and encourage interaction, such as asking the viewer to repeat words or do some movements.

“Getting good product into the hands of very young children is a passion of mine,” McCoy enthuses. Recognizing that other grandparents (and parents) share that interest, she and Cohen wanted to help them sort through the immense amount of children’s product available. Hence, Little One Books’ select list. “We want to give people choices, but not so much as to be overwhelming.”

And that’s why, also, within Little One Books’ zero-to-five age range, product is organized by specific age. As McCoy points out, there are occasions when people are looking for a gift to give a child they may not know really well — but they will always know the age of the child.

Cohen relates the feedback he received from one customer: “[He] was totally baffled about what to give an acquaintance at a baby shower. … He was dreading shopping, didn’t know what store to go to, and anticipated it would take an hour out of his day. But he went to our site and found something in a few minutes. … He said it was the perfect gift; the person who received it loved it.

“When people tell us they like what they buy or we did something to improve their lives, it’s a real charge.”

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