BookTree is a unique company founded on the mission of making it easy
for parents to read high-quality picture books to their children.
Founder Kathy Balch
BookTree evolved from the homegrown practices of founder Kathy
Balch, a working mother with a passion for quality children’s
literature. After countless hours in the library looking for books
that would be fun to read, educational, entertaining, age-appropriate,
and with subject matter her children were ready for, Kathy felt
there must be a better way for busy parents.
Over the last 20 years, children’s literature has evolved
into a huge industry. There are over 500,000 children’s books
in publication today, with about 10,000 new books published annually,
as compared to half of that ten years ago, and only a fraction of
that 20 years ago. While browsing the shelves of a library or typical
bookstore, one finds slick, gimmicky books, books thrown together
quickly to reach a new market segment, books written by celebrity
authors, and books designed for promoting a product. Parents now
have a more commercialized array of books from which to choose,
with broader ranges of quality and variety. The challenge to distinguish
the extraordinary from the ordinary is greater than ever. Kathy
took on this challenge, first for herself, and then for all the
other parents like her trying to do the best for their children
while juggling a multitude of tasks.
In the spring of 2005, Kathy ran a three-month pilot of BookTree at three preschools in San Francisco. The response to the program was overwhelmingly positive, and all participating families wanted to continue. Kathy had no choice but to abandon her high-tech business career and follow her passion for children's literature! Kathy and her husband Chad Balch, who has an extensive technology and business background and is a yoga instructor, have since worked together to grow BookTree as a company. BookTree is currently available at over 200 participating schools, workplaces, and organizations and stores where the service is available to the general public.
BookTree became available in Los Angeles in 2012. Heading up our operations there is Cynthia Ogle, a literacy specialist and teacher in the Los Angeles area for over 15 years. Cynthia brings to Los Angeles the same enthusiasm and passion for extraordinary children’s books that is the foundation of BookTree’s beginnings.
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