Take a look, it’s in a book

Erin Horst

Photo by Meredith J. Cooper

Erin Horst moved to Chico three years ago from Kansas City. With a young child at home, she quickly noticed the lack of options for finding quality books for kids here in Chico. Barnes & Noble is fine, she said, but relatively expensive. And she hasn’t had much luck at used bookstores. So, in March, the drama teacher at Inspire School of Arts and Sciences decided to do something about it. She hooked up with Usborne Publishing, based in the United Kingdom, and became a seller—much like one would do with Mary Kay cosmetics, “except I don’t have to keep inventory.” Nicknamed the Chico Book Lady, Horst is currently holding a fundraiser—through May 15, though she may extend it—called Cards for a Cause. She is selling greeting cards that come in different packages and cost $30 apiece, and the cause is helping open Chico Children’s Museum, which gets $13 of every card box sold. To learn more, find the Chico Book Lady on Facebook.

How did you find Usborne?

I first got [Usborne books] given to me from my mom, and I noticed that they were a little bit better quality than some of the other books I’d found in the store. They just don’t fall apart. And, with a toddler, that was impressive. I ordered one book called Everyone Poops. It was a book that I remembered reading and I had such a fondness for it, and I was just like, “You know what? This is really great. I’m going to do this.” I’m passionate about good stories, and these are good stories and good quality.

How did you get involved with fundraising for the Chico Children’s Museum?

I had a children’s museum that I went to when I was growing up, and I have so many fond memories of it. And, raising kids here in Chico, there’s so much to do outside, and so many great things to engage your kids in, but on those rainy days—we really need to get this. So when I saw it was under construction, I emailed [museum President] Dana Leslie and I asked, “What can I do to help?” And, of course, she said they needed money and volunteers. So I jumped on it and last summer we had a fundraiser for the museum for my son’s birthday party.

What’s your son James’ favorite book?

The book that actually got me hooked on Usborne, which is called That’s Not My Lion. It’s a touch-and-feel book. It has this structure of, on the first page it says, “That’s not my lion—his ears are too shaggy.” It has shaggy ears and they feel the ears.

Any other plans on the horizon?

I’m doing a summer reading program. This has no connection to making sales; it’s more of just a goal-setting thing. And I’ll support with education tools, graphics they can use or fun projects—like, for one week, we’ll have a Reading Bingo with challenges like “read under the covers” or “read for 10 minutes with a sibling.” Anything to promote literacy and get kids reading.