Local Shop Sells Books, Toys, Games and More

Photographer / Jubilee Edgell

Connie Ward’s love of books has been ingrained since childhood. Her school librarian, Mrs. Leach, made an early impression on her as a kid. Rather than choosing a random book from a shelf, she would take the time to help Ward find a book that she would enjoy. 

“I wanted to be like Mrs. Leach when I grew up,” Ward says.

Ward eventually obtained a librarian certification and fulfilled her dream of being like Mrs. Leach, with a career at Syracuse–Turkey Creek Township Library.

“I enjoyed listening to the school-age kids tell me how great a book was, or how bad, helping the moms find books for their little ones, and seeing the local kids come in to the library and hang out for a while, sharing their adventures before they went home for dinner,” she says.

After retiring from the library, Ward was a sales representative for a children’s book publisher. The insight she gained from her two professions, and the encouragement of a friend, prompted her to move forward with her dream of opening a store where she could help everyone choose a book.

Ward opened CedarStone Children’s Bookstore in 2019. Her desire to own her own business, and to end the toting of heavy books to and from libraries and church bazaars, prompted her to take the leap.

“The store is like a library because I get to help people, but there are no overdue fines and nobody tells the kids, ‘Shh,’” Ward says.

Ward’s son Lee is credited with naming the store.

“When he was 12 years old he noticed that soap-opera families named their homes, and he wanted ours to have a name too,” Ward says. “Cedar came from the cedars of Lebanon in the Bible, and Stone sounded strong to him.”

When it was time to choose a name for the shop, CedarStone was a perfect fit.

CedarStone Children’s Bookstore features thousands of books for children of all ages. The shop is also home to puzzles, which range from three pieces for tiny hands to 3,000 pieces for advanced youngsters. Customers can also find fun and educational games as well as toys, gift items, flash cards, greeting cards and a selection of books for adults.

The cozy bookstore has several seating areas for reading, and even houses cribs and playpens for little ones to stretch out while mom or dad selects a book.

“I enjoy helping the kids find just the right book that makes them excited about reading,” Ward says. “When they take it over to the sofa or one of the chairs and immediately start reading, I know I did a good job. Then there are the older kids who notice a book for younger kids and get so excited. They tell me about their first-grade teacher reading it to the class, and they’re so glad I have it for other kids to read.”

There is a wide range of book categories available at CedarStone. In addition to books for every age, readers will find themed books for upcoming holidays and celebrations, hobby books for cooking, gardening and design, novels, chapter books, comic books, easy-reader books and more.

Ward continually updates and adds to the store’s inventory, and if she doesn’t carry a requested title, she’ll find it and add it to the shelf. In addition to new books, CedarStone carries used books and also consigns books, puzzles and games. The shop has a special section for local authors in Kosciusko County and surrounding areas.

For online orders, customers can visit bookshop.org/shop/cedarstone, which is a CedarStone web page connected to shop’s website. Ward will deliver books and products to Syracuse residents who cannot leave their homes or are in poor health. Payment for delivery is made via PayPal, and Ward drops items at customers’ doors. 

CedarStone Children’s Bookstore is located at 710 North Huntington Street in Syracuse. Hours of operation are Mon. through Sat. noon to 6 p.m. Customers may also call 574-325-0135 or check out cedarstone.org for more information.

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