Booksellers David and Ann Diener operate Yellow Book Road, the best-known children’s bookstore in the San Diego area. The shop was voted the No. 1 Bookstore in San Diego two years running. Needless to say, the store is an independent, mom-and-pop operation, just the sort of store my brothers and I used to patronize as kids when we used our paper route money to buy books. I’m proud to say that David and Ann will be hosting me for a reading and book signing for Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci on April 24 at 2 p.m. The store is located at 7200 Parkway Drive, Suite 118, La Mesa, CA, 91942. Here’s my chat with Ann.
Can you tell us about The Yellow Book Road?
The Yellow Book Road began in 1986. Two teachers who were wild about children’s books began the store, which later moved to downtown La Mesa into its own building. Over the years the original owners became very well known in the area of children’s literature and gave workshops and seminars on the topic. After twenty years in the business, these two women decided to sell the store. Two young teachers bought the store and moved it to its present location. With the economy in a recession, plus raising young kids of their own, these two young teachers felt they needed to give up their dream and sold the store to us in September 2009.
How did you two become booksellers of children's books only?
The store has always been a children’s bookstore—that was the original focus and intent. There is a need for a store for children’s literature with professional, knowledgeable staff advising customers on the full range and depth of children’s media from infant to young adult. We have a motto at The Yellow Book Road —“We know kids and we know books!”
Do you remember visiting bookshops when you were a kid?
I don’t remember spending much time in bookstores as a child but I spent many hours in the public library. I have always read and have always loved books.
What are some of your favorite books for kids?
I remember that The Cat in the Hat was the first book I ever read to myself without any help. Because I clearly remember this, it must be a favorite. I also remember reading Black Beauty over and over as well as a collection of fairy tales on my own bookshelf. I devoured Anne of Green Gables and all of the Louisa May Alcott books. A Wrinkle in Time was my first science fiction book and I actually liked it! There are too many books to discuss, but I could talk on and on about children’s books.
You have been voted San Diego's #1 Bookstore in 2008 and 2009. Why do you think you so many people love the shop?
The staff at the book store has always been the reason people come to The Yellow Book Road. We hire teachers and librarians and those just crazy about children’s books. We feel we offer professional service to anyone who comes in and wants a good book. Teachers come here for their classroom collections and grandmas come for books for their grandkids. Each customer can trust the advice and help from our qualified staff.
Can you tell us what book events are like at The Yellow Book Road?
We have had several book events that we have been involved with since September. Writers and illustrators the caliber of John Scieszka, David Shannon, and Jack Prelutsky have appeared at the store. Most of the events during the school year are during the day so that classes can come from schools because we believe that the magic starts when an author and their books are introduced to children. Literacy is an important component of our mission and when an author shares the words from their own pages, the stories come to life. Often for a very famous author, we have standing-room-only. There are times when we’ve had lesser known authors who have shared their stories with a more intimate crowd and I hope the enjoyment is just the same.
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