Meet Sheila, Zoobean Curator

This week, we’re introducing you to the curators behind the Zoobean catalog, Q&A style!  First up, Sheila, a Jersey girl (or should we say “mom”), with a passion for teaching and literacy.


To start off, a few essentials about Sheila:  She is Jersey born and bread, currently living in Montclair.  Sheila has 15+ years working as a teacher and reading specialist and is wrapping up a dissertation in children’s literature and technology right now!  As it happens, we “met” Sheila through her blog, 

Zoobean: Tell us about your background in children’s books. Why do you love books, and what makes you a good fit as a Zoobean curator?

Sheila: My parents instilled a love of reading and learning from day one, and that passion has driven a lot of what I do in my adult life.  As a Zoobean curator, I not only draw upon that passion but I am constantly inspired by the students I encounter in my professional role as an elementary Reading Specialist.  Words are like magic to me.  I’m fascinated by the power that lies within them.

Zoobean: Tell us about the importance of curators when it comes to children’s books. Is it difficult for readers, parents, and loved ones to discover books on their own for kids?

Sheila: To me, curators are like book experts.  Parenting is hard work and if life is made a bit easier by getting input from a curator, then go for it! There are thousands of children’s books published each year and it’s hard to keep up with them all.  Many parents often go with books that they loved as a child (which is great, too!)…but by tapping into a curator’s toolbox, parents can also be privy to children’s books that may not normally be on their radar.  Curators expand the repertoire for children to explore literacy at multiple levels.

Zoobean: How do you know when a book is right for Zoobean families? Or, what makes a book a Zoobean loved book?

Sheila: Zoobean books are universal books.  They speak to people of all walks of life, family dynamics, and cultures.  They are timeless and, most importantly, support readers as curious learners of our world.

Zoobean: Tell us about your experience with the curation and tagging process.

Sheila: I love that there are so many tags available.  It reinforces the idea that young readers are complex, and have many interests and preferences! 

Zoobean: What would be your number one piece of advice in choosing a book for a child?

Sheila: Listen to the child.  Really listen.  You’ll be able to pick up on specific interests, dislikes, and curiosities that will help you find the perfect book.

Zoobean: What was your favorite book as a child?

Sheila: Corduroy by Dan Freeman

Zoobean: What is your favorite activity to do with your children (in addition to reading, of course)?

Sheila: Having life adventures!

Zoobean: What is your favorite thing about reading with your children

Sheila: Building a love of the written word.

Zoobean: What is your favorite memory of reading as a child?

Sheila: My father and I taking daily trips to the local library.  A stop at the donut shop was always included! 

Zoobean: How do you help your own child (or loved ones) develop a lifelong love of reading?

Sheila: Read myself, talk to them about what I’m reading, take them to the library regularly, and buy books as presents (always!)

Zoobean: What is your favorite season and why?

Sheila: Spring!  Warm days, cool nights, and flowers abound

Zoobean: What was your first job?

Sheila: Besides babysitting, I was a cashier at a local supermarket at the age of 14.

Zoobean: What is your favorite movie and why? Or, what was your favorite movie as a child?

Sheila: Amelie, because it’s magical and dreamy and perfect.

Zoobean: Do you have a favorite blog? What is it? What do you like about it?

Sheila: I adore  Looking at lovely homes and delicious designs is heavenly.

Stay tuned for more Q&A sessions with our curators throughout the coming weeks.  Have questions of your own for them?  Post them here, or tweet us @zoobeanforkids.