Since Melia Wolf opened Cover to Cover Books for Young Readers Jan. 21, she's literally spent every day working to bring to life her vision of a magical destination that fosters lifelong readers.
"It's fun to be here," Wolf said.
"It's a positive place to be."
Wolf hasn't maintained a seven-days-a-week schedule just for her own enjoyment, although the 48-year-old admits to losing herself intermittently in the "amazing messages" found in the children's books she sells.
She's working to build on the success of a business that previous owners Carl King and Sally Oddi operated for 37 years in Clintonville.
Cover to Cover is now open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at 2116 Arlington Ave. in Upper Arlington.
A former art teacher, Wolf also is dogged in her efforts to make reading a part of children's lives and to inspire them and adults to dream big and build faith and confidence through books and those who write them.
"A big part of what Cover to Cover is and will continue to be is a destination to connect readers to the authors," Wolf said. "This is my first time owning a business, and this is all just coming together.
"I feel a big responsibility with the store. We have these great children's authors, many who happen to live in our own backyards, and we want to connect them with the community."
Thus far, Wolf has worked to make her store inviting and to encourage children to read by holding in-store events such as one on March 2 -- Dr. Seuss' birthday and National Read Across America Day -- which saw Jeanne Kirkpatrick, adorned in full Cat in the Hat costume, reading Dr. Seuss stories to Barrington Elementary kindergarten students.
The store is close to Jones Middle School, and Wolf has worked with both the school and the nearby Upper Arlington Public Library to host and plan events that will bring in nationally known children's authors to read to the community at large.
She offers space for youth book club meetings and encourages children and other customers to explore during visits.
"This isn't a 'don't touch' place," she said. "This is a pull-it-out, touch-it, try-it-out place."
Seyla Kramer, an events coordinator for the store, said Wolf has tried to break down common barriers between kids and reading through the in-store book clubs and regular author visits.
"During the book clubs, kids read out loud," Kramer said. "It's peer-to-peer reading.
"We always like to have the kids read out loud in front of people their ages. We just want to encourage kids to read."
Kramer and Wolf agree that having Jody Casella, author of "Thin Space," on staff has enhanced Cover to Cover's reputation. They said Casella helps recruit children's authors to take part in in-store events and larger readings in Upper Arlington, and has been a vital resource in ensuring Cover to Cover has a current and diverse catalog of books.
"We have a lot of aspiring authors and illustrators who come in the store," Wolf said. "Jody writes in the morning and then she works in the store.
"She's a huge gift and she's really helped connect us and build our relationships. I want teachers and parents to feel like this is a place to go and get front-list suggestions."
This spring, Cover to Cover has a host of events planned, including a March 18 book-signing by "Monsters Beware" author Rafael Rosado, an April 10 in-store visit from Edgar Award-winning author Mindy McGinnis and a partnership that will bring New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix to the Upper Arlington Library's Main Branch April 11.
"This is a personal transition for me and I'm growing through the experience. I feel that the books and the people I'm meeting, and the authors, are helping to expand my knowledge of the world and my empathy," Wolf said.
"I will always listen to my community, and that's how I want the store to evolve. I also want to challenge my community and open it to more of a global view. That's what books can do."