Jim Morgan is building on his experience as a member of the Ridgewood Board of Education, and his decade before that with the Ridgewood Education Foundation, in building the inventory of the Curious Reader.
“Working on the board of education gives me an appreciation for childhood literacy,” Morgan said in an interview at the store Tuesday. “Once you start reading, if you do it right, the world’s your oyster.”
The Curious Reader opened Sunday and is continuing in the coming weeks to fill out its inventory, which offers books for everyone from budding early readers up to young adults. A significant portion of the store will be organized by reading level, an uncommon feature to bookstores that Morgan is modeling off the classroom libraries funded years ago by the REF.
That setup, he said, will make it easier for teachers and parents to find books appropriate to the reading level their children have attained in school.
“It’s the basic, introductory way to teach literacy to children,” Morgan said. “What’s difficult for is parents is to find it.”
Like other local bookstores, the Curious Reader is also planning special author visits when the operation gets fully underway.
Morgan is the brains behind the layout of the store, which features a castle-like book section and a model train running above the shelves – attractions he hopes will make the shop welcoming to young customers. But his daughter, Sally, who helped manage Books, Bytes and Beyond for eight years, provides the expertise on the literature.
“With kids books, it’s really important to look at them before you buy it, and test drive it a bit,” she said. “I think Glen Rock really liked having a children’s book store, and this space is key.”
For the Morgans, the store bridges a family’s passion for books with practical plans to help immerse children in an array of classic and contemporary literature.
“Making it so easy for parents and teachers is what we think will distinguish us from every other children’s bookstore,” Morgan said. “We really made this our own.”
[Editor's note - This story was originally published Oct. 8, 2013, but updated to reflect the following correction: Jim Morgan is a past member of the Ridgewood Education Foundation, not the Ridgewood Education Association.]