Nashville’s Parnassus Books hosts kids storytime every weekend, and we’re particularly excited about this weekend’s line-up! Mom, author, and publisher Rana DiOrio shares her approach to talking with little kids about big topics like mindfulness, environmental stewardship, global connection, and personal safety.
Rana—chief executive pickle of Little Pickle Press—is a reformed lawyer and investment banker, an active private equity investor and entrepreneur supporter, a self-described lifelong learner, and a mom of three little pickles. Rana founded her children’s publishing company in 2009 when she saw a need for high quality, high impact media for children. She’s in town this weekend for storytime at Parnassus Books. We grabbed a few moments with her to find out what she has in store for kiddos this weekend.
You’ll be in Nashville for a book reading at our beloved local bookstore Parnassus on October 27! What’s your tie to Music City?
I’m an alumna of Vanderbilt University School of Law. I’m currently a member of the law school’s Advisory Board, so I have the privilege of coming to Nashville twice a year. I’m also a huge Ann Patchett fan, and I’m thrilled to be doing an event at her new indie bookstore.
The books you’re reading at Parnassus are from your “What Does It Mean To Be…?®” series. What inspired that series?
I wrote What Does It Mean To Be Green? first. It had been in my head for quite some time and just flowed out of me one day. My intention was to give children a framework for environmental stewardship. If children understand why we are asking them to be eco-friendly, then they will become the ones to think up new ways to protect the Earth.
My inspiration for What Does It Mean To Be Global? was the election of Barack Obama to the highest office in our country and the need for a tool to explain the significance of that to my own children.
Then came What Does It Mean To Be Present? and What Does It Mean To Be Safe? It has taken me four decades to figure out these concepts for myself, so I thought it would be helpful and meaningful to give children the benefit of my life’s work on these important subjects.
Do your kids have a favorite?
My pickles like Present best. They especially like finding the blue butterfly on each page.
You’ll be incorporating yoga with Saturday’s storytime. How do yoga and story go together?
I believe that children are best able to learn when they are engaged in the moment. For me, the easiest way to be in the moment is to practice yoga. So, we will be practicing yoga as a way to experience what it means to be present and to open our minds to learn about being global, green, and safe.
You have an impressive, extensive corporate background—investment banking, real estate, securities—which seems at first like an unlikely gateway to children’s books. When and why did you start writing for kids?
When The Great Recession commenced, I was working to raise a fund for early-stage retail investment opportunities. The words “fund,” “early-stage,” and “retail” were not popular or well-received investment attributes in the increasingly bleak economic climate. I was pregnant with my third child at the time, so I decided to step out of finance and focus on my family for a while. During that time, I wrote two manuscripts—What Does It Mean To Be Green? and What Does It Mean To Be Global? I showed the manuscripts to people who know about these things, and I received unanimously positive feedback. I started to research publishers that would print the books on recycled paper with soy inks in the Americas. Since none existed, I founded Little Pickle Press. In keeping with our B Corp certification, we are the change we seek.
Your publishing company, Little Pickle Press, is a new media company, which means your books are more than traditional book-books. What other formats are available?
All of our titles are available as enhanced eBooks on Amazon, in the iBookstore, and in Nook Kids. We also have an award-winning book app titled Being Global, developed in partnership with KiteReaders. (You can download it.) Our other book app, developed in partnership with aerbook, is based on our award-winning title, Your Fantastic Elastic Brain. (You can download Brain, too.) Additionally, we have original music compositions for four of our titles available in the iTunes Store.
What ‘s next for Little Pickle Press?
We will be publishing our first chapter book in December 2012, titled Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons, by Jodi Carmichael and illustrated by Sarah Ackerley. It’s as much fun as it sounds! And next year you can expect more original music from Little Pickle Press as well as at least five new titles.
Thanks, Rana! We can’t wait to see you in Nashville on Saturday!
Saturday, October 27, 10:30am
Storytime at Parnassus Books
with Rana DiOrio of Little Pickle Press