For Diane Capriola, books are more than a business; they are a way to save the world. The former child psychologist opened Little Shop of Stories in Decatur eleven years ago to share her love of children’s literature with the community. Since 2013, she’s also served as Children’s and Teens’ Program Director for the Decatur Book Festival, which introduces thousands of adolescents every year to the joys of reading and writing.
As a child, Capriola spent a lot of time in bookstores and her local library. Her favorite titles included Corduroy by Don Freeman, Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. Now a fifty-year-old mother of three, Capriola revisited those old friends with each of her children.
“My love for children’s books was reignited with the birth of my son, Nick, in 1996,” Capriola says. “I shared my old favorites with him, but we also discovered many new classics together. It’s not a stretch to say these shared experiences with all three of my young children helped shape my dream of opening a children’s bookstore.”
Little Shop of Stories is not just a place to buy books. It also offers summer camps, book clubs and workshops, story times, and author appearances both in the store and at local schools. In 2017, the bookstore commenced its Year of Kindness, an initiative exploring compassion and acceptance in relation to subjects such as race, gender, immigration, and religion through the lens of children’s literature.
“I always like to say that children’s books will save the world,” Capriola says. “Not only do we see ourselves in the books we read, but we are also able to see beyond our own experiences and understand what it is like for someone else. Books foster empathy, awareness, and compassion in a powerful and thoughtful way.”