Sally Oddi, Cover to Cover

Melissa Kossler Dutton

After a disappointing book fair at the Columbus City school where she taught reading, Sally Oddi told some of her colleagues, "We could do better than that."

Soon after, she started Selections Book Fairs.

"In the beginning, it was about having better book fairs in the schools," she said.

But before long, she wanted to give parents and teachers access to good books all year long.

She decided to quit teaching and open up a children's book store. Cover to Cover opened in 1980.

Today, she and her husband, Carl King, run the bookstore and the book fair company. Oddi still loves introducing young readers to new titles.

When authors and illustrators visit your store, you have them sign the walls. How did that come about?

We had a guest book for the first couple of events, but that was not something you could share very easily.

What happened to the signatures and illustrations on the walls in your old location when you bought this building in 1997?

We brought the old walls with us. The landlord let us bring them, but we had to restore the walls for the new tenants.

How often do authors and illustrators visit the shop?

It can vary very dramatically. The fall and the spring are the busiest times.

Any advice on how to encourage a love of reading in children?

I would say it's very simple. A love of reading comes from reading a lot, letting them see the variety that's out there, and watching you read and seeing the value you place on reading.

What are your favorite children's books?

I am a big fan of Robert McCloskey's "Make Way for Ducklings." I like the "Snow Day" by Ezra Jack Keats. Marla Frazee had done of a lot of interesting things. There's almost too many to mention. There are constantly new people entering the field.

What do you consider some of the more exciting things that have happened in children's literature?

Watching the new talent and the range of writing and illustrating that's developed over the last 30 years has been pretty exciting. Watching children's authors become celebrities has been really startling to me. The availability of contact with authors through websites is great for kids.