Posts Tagged children’s bookstores

Indie Spotlight: The Charming Theodore’s Books of Oyster Bay, NY

Theodore's Books


Theodore's Books




Theodore’s Books of Oyster Bay, NY

Theodore’s Books of Oyster Bay, NY, my home away from home, is nestled in the historic, waterfront hamlet on the North Shore of Long Island. It’s the pride and joy of owner Steve Israel, book lover and former congressman who envisioned a space that inspired learning and the exchange of ideas. Theodore’s is a world away from the heated environment that politics can brew.


I never wondered why the name Theodore’s Books? Sure, Oyster Bay, NY, is where beloved former president Theodore Roosevelt once lived, and there are sculptures and imagery dedicated to the popular figure all over the Gold Coast town, but that’s not the only connection I made between the Indie establishment and one of my favorite presidents. Theodore Roosevelt was a well-known fanatic of adventure. Some would say he had an almost child-like drive for exploration. He loved the outdoors, physical activities, and thrived in dare-devil environments that most would shy away from. What better place to start an expedition into exciting worlds unknown than between the covers of a book? 

Theodore Roosevelt’s youthful sense of curiosity percolates on the shelves of this cozy bookstore. Afterleaving the polarized environment of politics behind, Steve Israel opened the doors to Theodore’s, and he wanted one message to be very clear: at Theodore’s you’ll find a refuge.

Children, like adults, deserve to escape what feels like an omni-present political battle going on in the world. At 1,528 square feet and nearly 10,000 titles, Theodore’s stocks their shelves with, “books from the left, the right, the middle or nowhere in particular. Some political books and (mostly) non-political books.” And they proudly display a sign that reads: No jerks allowed

Steve Israel


I visited with the store’s incredibly kind staff, Dan, Chloe, and Steve Israel himself, to get their take on what their youngest clientele has been leaning into to find adventures and feed their inner explorers.

Here’s what they had to say:


Is reading an abandoned pastime?

Ines: People are always claiming that books and reading in general are things of the past. That children especially aren’t interested in reading anymore. Steve, what’s your response to that?


Steve: I’ve noticed the decline in a desire for reading and it saddens me. Social media has a grip on society, and with children especially. The algorithms are incredibly savvy and know just how to keep our children’s attention glued to the screen. But there’s nothing quite like sitting with a book and immersing yourself in a world that fills your mind. I want children to experience the joy that comes with reading, which is why I dedicated a table to them in the children’s books section of the store. I want them to be able to grab a book, take a seat, and pause from everything else for a moment so that they can experience the solace that is reading.

What is it about Theodore’s?

Ines: It’s easy for me to list off the things that draw me to Theodore’s—which thankfully is only a twenty-minute drive from my house—the idyllic location, frequent street festivals, family friendly area, etc. But what would you say is a key feature that would be especially inviting for the middle-grade age crowd?


Dan: I think our best feature for middle grade readers is our children’s area. The children’s section that includes fiction and non-fiction books, games, puzzles, and stuffed animals, covers an entire wall and two bookcases. I think we carry more kids’ books than presidential biographies—despite the store’s namesake being a popular U.S. President. I’m particularly proud of the amount of non-fiction titles we carry for kids. There are plenty of non-fiction stories that are as adventurous and interesting as fiction.

Best-sellers of the MG Kind

Ines: What books seem to be consistent fan favorites among the middle grade shoppers of Theodore’s? 


Dan: I’ve sold a lot of A to Z Mysteries, I Survived, and Big Nate. We also keep being reminded of our love for Frog and Toad even as adults. In fact, we spend a lot of time reminiscing over childhood favorites; I hand sell the titles The Westing Game and Holes often!  

Chloe is our children’s books specialist, keeping that section of our store stocked with the best. 


Chloe: I’m proud of our children’s corner of the store. It’s our largest collection, carrying everything from board books to young adult. I keep my eye out for both new releases and classics for younger readers. We maintain our New Releases: Kids, Middle Grade, and YA list up to date with titles we’re all excited about.

The Happenings at Theodore’s for the MG Crowd

Ines: In March of this year, a group of Girl Scouts was selling cookies in the store, which is such a great way to give those hard working little troops a warm, indoor, and cozy place to sell their goods. Does Theodore’s offer other events or opportunities for their middle grade patrons? 


Dan: Yes! We recently held a personalized shopping experience for graphic novels and comics. Several young readers came in and shared what their favorites were, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they had read through most of the exhaustive list I curated for that event. Including one child that had already read Jeff Smith’s Bone, a personal childhood favorite. 

Theodore’s has held bookmark design contests and other activities to connect with kids. We also love it when groups of children come in after school and exchange book recommendations! Sometimes spending half an hour lounging in the chairs up front, discussing what books they’ll trade when finished.  

I think we’ll eventually have live music in the store, and we’ll continue to offer more specialized shopping hours. Those types of events are always free, and all are welcome to browse and ask booksellers questions. I’d love it if Theodore’s became a hangout for kids to read and chat.

bookstore bookseller posing

((If you enjoyed this read, you should check out this article Children’s Bookstores Survive!))


I love to visit indie bookstores during my travels. If you do too and ever find yourself on Long Island, make sure that Oyster Bay is one of your stops. I go there every chance I get. You can grab a cup of Joe at Southdown Coffee, pop into Theodore’s Books for a warm bookish welcome, and later stroll the waterfront streets. Don’t forget to pay Sagamore Hill a visit too! 

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STEM Tuesday– Architecture– Book List

Architecture is the art and science of designing buildings, from skyscrapers to houses, cathedrals to factories, theme parks to museums. Architecture brings together art, math, physics, and engineering, plus an understanding of how people interact with designed spaces.

How Was That Built?: The Stories Behind Awesome Structures by Roma Agrawal

Author Roma Agrawal is a structural engineer. She has designed bridges and skyscrapers, and spent six years working on The Shard (the tallest building in Western Europe). In her book, she shows how engineers and architects approached a variety of challenges, from building a dome to building underground, on ice, even in space.

Buildings that Breathe, Greening the World’s Cities by Nancy Castaldo

Can a skyscraper be a forest? That’s the question architect Stefano Boeri asked when he integrated trees into his design for the Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy. Readers will learn about the inspiration for his vertical tree towers, engineering the design, creating a team that includes arborists, and thinking about skyscrapers as forest habitat. It ends with how to make a difference in your city.

Discovering Architecture by Eduard Altarriba & Berta Bardí I Milà

An engaging examination of the architecture of buildings around the world, from the pyramids to architecture of the future (green growth, sustainable buildings, & perhaps even life on Mars), famous architects, and the role of architecture in our daily lives. Awesome cut-aways, illustrations, and floor plans combine with history, math, and practical examples to make architecture fun.

Wild Buildings and Bridges: Architecture Inspired by Nature by Etta Kaner, illustrated by Carl Wiens

Many architects look to nature to help solve building challenges and inspire design. Readers will see how cacti and desert canyons inspired cooling features, and water lilies inspired a floating house. Sidebars highlight architects and there are a few activities included.

The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond by Patrick Dillon, illustrated by Stephen Biesty

This book looks at the diversity of buildings as well as materials used. Visit the Parthenon, examples of Roman architecture, and Notre Dame. Tour the Forbidden City, and compare Renaissance buildings with modern styles. The tour ends with a close look at a straw bale house incorporating environmental design for heating and cooling.

Atlas of Amazing Architecture: The Most Incredible Buildings You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of by Peter Allen

Buildings have amazing stories, and this book introduces 30 lesser known buildings around the world. They range from neolithic monuments to airports, temples to pyramids, palaces to hideaways. A great way to tour architectural diversity.

Ancient Wonders – Then & Now by Lonely Planet Kids, Stuart Hill, illustrated by Lindsey Spinks

Gatefolds and flaps offer a fun interactive look at architectural marvels throughout the world, including Easter Island, Angkor Wat, and Petra as well as sites in Rome, England, Greece, and Egypt. Explaining the construction, usage, and current condition.

Great Building Designs: 1900 to Today by Ian Graham

Stunning photos of 12 famous buildings around the world and the architects who built them. Side bars define design elements, statistics, history, and the buildings’ interactions with the environment. It includes a challenge to design a building, timeline, glossary, and further ideas for research.


Maya Lin: Thinking with Her Hands by Susan Goldman Rubin

Maya Lin won the design competition for the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial when she was a college student. She uses stone and water to design her monuments as well as other buildings: a museum, library, chapel, house. Lin’s designs take into account how people interact with the space.

Immigrant Architect: Rafael Guastavino and the American Dream by Berta de Miguel, Kent Diebolt, and Virginia Lorente, illustrated by Virginia Lorente. (Picture Book)

Historical fiction told in a wonderful conversational voice from the perspective of architect Rafael Gustavino Moreno’s son, Rafael Gustavino Expósito, about their experiences immigrating from Spain, patenting of the “Gustavino tile vaulting system,” hard work, and ultimate creation of over a thousand buildings in the U.S., including Grand Central Station in N.Y, the Boston Public Library, the ceiling at Ellis Island, and a “ghost” subway station (that can still be seen).


Architecture for Kids: Skill-Building Activities for Future Architects by Mark Moreno and Siena Moreno

The first part of the book is an introduction to architecture, presenting information about foundations, structure, site plans, elevations – even climate and landscape considerations. There’s an activity on each page, and each chapter ends with a challenge. Part two is all about designing your dreams, with prompts for everything from a tiny house to clothing. Lots of fun and all you need is a pencil.

Adventures in Architecture for Kids: 30 Design Projects for STEAM Discovery and Learning by Vicky Chan

Awesome hands-on activities using cardboard, vegetables, and other common household items guide kids through general construction, historic architecture (using or combatting nature), landscape architecture (tree houses and zoos), sustainable architecture, and city planning. It provides materials lists and notes for adults (outlining physical and mental challenges) for each project, a glossary, and templates.

This month’s STEM Tuesday book list was prepared by:

Sue Heavenrich examines fungi

Sue Heavenrich, who writes about science for children and their families on topics ranging from space to backyard ecology. Bees, flies, squirrel behavior—things she observes in her neighborhood and around her home—inspire her writing. Her most recent book is Funky Fungi (with Alisha Gabriel). Visit her at

Maria Marshall, a children’s author, blogger, and poet who is passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she watches birds, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. Visit her at

STEM Tuesday– Nuclear/Atomic Science– Book List

From X-rays to bombs, coverups to meltdowns, the history of radioactive elements has never been boring.

Who Split The Atom? by Anna Claybourne

Using a DK-like format, it explores the early history and research into the structure of atoms, the periodic table, radioactivity, and atomic science. Loaded with photographs, graphics, “That’s A Fact!,” “Breakthrough,” and scientific sidebars, as well as vignettes of scientists, it is an accessible and engaging introduction to radioactivity.

Atomic Universe: The Quest To Discover Radioactivity by Kate Boehm Jerome

This National Geographic book uses a running timeline across the top of the pages (from 1800 to 1971), photographs, mini biographies, and “science booster” sidebars to interest high-low readers in an introductory overview to radioactivity, atomic science, and nuclear reactors.

The Woman Who Split the Atom: The Life of Lise Meitner by Marissa Moss

Lise Meitner made groundbreaking discoveries in the study of radiation. She was the first to split the atom. But as a woman she faced many barriers, with men often taking credit for her scientific research. When Hitler came to power she had to face anti-Semitic threats as well. In addition to the science of radioactive elements, this book shows how easily women’s contributions can be erased from the history of science.

Radioactive!: How Irène Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World by Winifred Conkling

This gripping dual biography provides an in depth look at both the discoveries, life-long personal sacrifices, and professional struggles which Irène Curie and her husband Frédéric Joliot-Curie made in discovering artificial radiation and Lise Meitner made in discovering nuclear fission. It also touches on Marie and Pierre Curie’s discovery of natural radiation, society’s grappling with radiation, World War II, and the atomic bomb. Includes a time line, Who’s Who section, black and white photos, and fascinating sidebars further explaining the science.

Marie Curie for Kids: Her Life and Scientific Discoveries, with 21 Activities and Experiments by Amy M. O’Quinn

This book begins with Marie Curie’s childhood in Poland and takes readers through her scientific work and discoveries. Her work in radioactive elements was pivotal in creating the field of atomic physics and she added new elements to the periodic table. Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in not one, but two fields: chemistry and physics. Hands-on activities include building atomic models, a periodic table scavenger hunt, and splitting water into atoms.

The Science and Technology of Marie Curie, by Julie Knutson

Another book for Curie fans, that explores her groundbreaking research in physics and chemistry. Just as these discoveries forced scientists to rethink the structure of the world, Curie’s work forced them to rethink the role of women in science. Information boxes and sidebars are scattered throughout chapters, as are some biographies of other women in science, and there are a handful of activities to explore.

The Radium Girls: The Scary But True Story Of The Poison That Made People Glow In The Dark by Kate Moore

Equal parts medical mystery, corporate cover-up, and justice for women workers. This riveting true story about young women who used “glow-in-the-dark radium paint” on watch dials details the incredible lengths that the corporations took to evade responsibility for the women’s radium poisoning and deaths and the horrendous suffering of the girls. As well as the amazing efforts of a few doctors and lawyers determined to help these women fight back for their families and to save others and forever change workplace laws.

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

Take one part spy thriller, one part scientific research, and a dash of political intrigue and you get an explosive mix! In this book Sheinkin traces the race from splitting the uranium atom to harnessing the power of the first atomic bomb. Section headings include titles such as “how to build a bomb” with an epilogue that discusses the fallout of the atomic arms race. The heart of the book is based on first-hand accounts by participants in the events.

In Fallout: Spies, Superbombs, and the Ultimate Cold War Showdown, Steve Sheinkin takes readers on a fast-paced and terrifying journey into the Cold War and nuclear arms race. Like Bomb, Fallout is a page-turning nonfiction – perfect for kids who love science and history.

Chien-Shiung Wu: Pioneering Nuclear Physicist by Richard Hammond

This upper-middle grade book looks at the contributions this brilliant Chinese-American nuclear physicist made to the Manhattan Project – production of radioactive uranium for the atomic bomb and improvements of radioactive detectors. As well as Wu’s later experiments which changed scientists’ understanding of physics and resulted in her election as the first female president of the American Physical Society. Includes photographs, timelines, diagrams, and extensive further resources.

The Disappearing Spoon, And Other True Tales of Rivalry, Adventure, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements (Young Readers Edition) by Sam Kean

While this book isn’t exclusively about radioactive elements, there are plenty of stories about them – and their discoveries – to make it worth checking out. In a conversational tone, Kean talks about the periodic table, element families, and how elements are discovered. Sprinkled throughout are stories about the discovery of fission, the Manhattan Project, the “radioactive boy scout,” as well as Marie Curie and Lise Meitner.

Meltdown: Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Disaster in Fukushima by Deirdre Langeland

On March 11, 2011, the largest earthquake ever measured in Japan occurred off the northeast coast. It triggered a tsunami with a wall of water 128 feet high that ripped apart homes, schools, and damaged the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, causing a nuclear meltdown. Chapters describe the events as well as the science of nuclear reactors. Each section begins with a readout of reactor status, from “offline” to “meltdown” with the last chapter exploring lessons learned.

This month’s STEM Tuesday book list was prepared by:

Sue Heavenrich, author

Sue Heavenrich, who writes about science for children and their families on topics ranging from space to backyard ecology. Bees, flies, squirrel behavior—things she observes in her neighborhood and around her home—inspire her writing. Her most recent book is Funky Fungi (with Alisha Gabriel). Visit her at

Maria Marshall, a children’s author, blogger, and poet who is passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she watches birds, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. Visit her at