As of this month, Little Book, Big Story is ten years old. Ten! An entire decade! Fashion trends, musical styles, large swaths of whole childhoods have come and gone in that ten years and yet, here I am—still standing on our back porch, hunched awkwardly over picture books, trying to photograph them before the March sun sets at 5:34 p.m. And because ten years is a lot of time, I thought I’d pause and do two things:
1) Say thank you. I know a handful of you have been reading along from the very beginning, and I’m pretty sure you have no idea how much that means to me. Thank you for your fortitude! Ten years generates a lot of weekly blog posts, and if you’ve opened even a third of those emails, that’s . . . a lot. Thank you. If you’ve been reading since those early years, I want to do something fun for you. Would you let me? Would you email me (email@example.com) and let me know? I’d like to send you something heartfelt and nice.
2) I want to tell you a story. Many of you have discovered this blog within the past few years and may not know the story behind it. So I thought you might like to hear why I started this blog in the first place—how it all went down.
How it All Went Down
I had two daughters back then. They were four and two, and though I didn’t know it, I’d be pregnant with the third weeks after launching this blog. As a stay-at-home mom, I was looking for a way to write regularly but, you know, purposefully. I’d kept one blog or another since college, when my dad told me what a blog was and that I should start one, but I wasn’t interested in writing a “mommy blog” (the world didn’t need my personal advice on parenting, gathered after four whole years of experience!). Still, my life was diapers and strollers and shirt-changes and peek-a-boo. I wasn’t sure what else to write about.
And then two things happened: I discovered a handful of excellent Christian picture books, and I had a handful of conversations with friends who lamented the lack of excellent Christian picture books.
And I thought, Aha. I could talk about good books for days—sometimes, I’m afraid, to the point of Being a Bit Much—so the idea of starting a blog about children’s books took root. I already spent a lot of time looking for good books for my family. If I could start a blog that would help my friends also find good books for their families . . .
So, I began designing a blog and drafting early posts. And I immediately broke nearly all the rules of Being a Good Blogger. I did not write short, punchy posts with catchy titles; instead, I wrote long posts with stories in them that I hoped readers would enjoy. I took on the time-consuming and extremely inefficient task of photographing every book I reviewed, because I wanted to give readers a sense of what the physical books look and feel like. I decided not to do ads or sponsored posts—and I still don’t, ten years in. (I do accept review copies from publishers, but only for books I’m already confident will be a good fit for this blog.) And though I tinkered with social media briefly at the beginning—I did love the way it allowed me to interact with readers on a more regular basis—I found myself spending just as much time crafting social media posts as I did writing blog posts. And I didn’t have time for both. So I stopped posting on social media, knowing that my blog would be less visible as a result.
I prayed instead that God would introduce my blog to readers who would be deeply blessed by it, however few they may be.
And has he ever! I do little to actively promote this blog, and yet: readers find it. Authors and illustrators have picked up reviews and shared them. Publishers have found and shared this blog as well. Friends have told other friends, teachers have told families, and within the last few years, Story Warren has begun introducing my posts to their own readers. Wild Things & Castles in the Sky readers have drifted this way, too. And because of this, everyone who lands here feels hand-chosen.
I am profoundly grateful for each one of you.
What it Looks Like Now
Ten years in, Little Book, Big Story is still a small, one-woman show—I do everything from design the blog to letter the headings to photograph the books to, ah yes, write the weekly posts and newsletters. And every few years I take this whole project up in my hands and bring it back to God. I ask him, Should I keep going? Is this still where you want me?
And every time—no exaggeration here—every single time, I receive an email within the next twenty-four hours or so from a reader who just wanted to reach out and let me know how the books she’s found through this blog have blessed her family. Brand new parents; grandparents hoping to connect with their grandchildren; overseas missionaries with limited access to libraries; homeschooling parents; pastors gathering resources for the families in their congregations; even, this last time, the children’s ministry director at my very own church—I am in awe of the stories God is telling in the lives of those I’ve gotten to meet through this blog, and of their faithfulness in telling me, precisely when I need to hear it, to keep going.
This blog has always been meant to point readers away from its pages—toward the books I’m recommending, and through them, toward the Author of life itself. And so I love these little glimpses into where God sends you when you’re through reading reviews: back to your homes and churches, with your arms full, I hope, of new books to share.
In Gratitude (and Closing)
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you for the time you’ve given this work over the years, and for the times you’ve sought out one of the books featured here and shared it with your loved ones. Thank you for the emails and the encouragement and for the book recommendations. Your fellowship is a gift to this blog and (though they don’t always know it) to my family and to me.
For ten years, thank you.
And for those of you who have been reading since those early years, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’m serious. Take me up on this! I’d love to send you a little something to say thank you.