Bess Baird is a bicyclist, hiker, nature lover, and writer/illustrator of cloth books for young children. She lives in Asheville, NC with her husband Rod. Bess is the founder of BessBooks
Bess has lots of energy and sitting is not her forte. In 1st grade (in the “old days), she was subjected to sitting in a half circle around the teacher to read out loud from uninspiring, teacher selected books. Fortunately, she didn’t need a lot of sleep or Bess would have fallen out of the chair and snored. Right then and there, she made a vow to figure out how to make reading fun and interesting for kids so they would want to read. With a degree in Early Childhood Education (preschool-3rd grade) from the University of Maryland, she has used her creativity many times to do just that.
Rod and Bess met at a party when they were 16! Many years and two grown children later, love still reigns. They have had multiple lives together – a cramped apartment in Washington, DC; a farm in the North Carolina piedmont with turkeys, ducks, Cornish hens, guineas, and chickens; a farm in western North Carolina with cattle and a huge garden that yielded Cherokee artifacts at every “soil turning”; to the city life in Asheville, NC.
“These are such sweet books. They are wonderful for learning colors and how to count. The soft material makes them easy to take on the go in my purse and in the car. The children have even snuggled with them in bed. I love these books!”
While doing heavy work on the farm – throwing bales of hay onto trucks, mending barbed wire fences, maintaining the health of the cattle, planting and processing food from the garden – Bess had lots of time to plot a plan for her children (assuming there would be some) to love to read. Well, it worked! Grant and Amber are avid readers in their spare time.
When Bess and Rod’s first born child graduated from elementary school, Bess reenrolled in school to develop her passion for art. She took studio art classes at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Montreat College, and Asheville Buncombe Tech. Some of her work is featured in two publications from Lark Books, “Fresh Paint” and “Gilding”. Her murals permeate the walls of her house.
Working with young children who are behind in language arts is her passion. Bess is driven by her quest to provide every child with an opportunity to succeed. She worked one-on-one with kids who were not ready to read…making sure they laughed and jumped at every session.
For the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s western region, Bess conducted workshops for teachers so they would be armed with creative and interesting projects for their classrooms. Bess was an inspirational character in costume while accompanying kindergartners and teachers weekly on a children’s TV show to teach a lesson. And she was executive producer for an award winning video for children.
Bess absolutely and positively believes that children learn eagerly when learning is fun. She still encounters former students in the grocery store that assure her she succeeded in making learning fun!
Somewhere in the depths of a closet, Bess discovered Rod’s cloth baby book, copyright 1947. After so many years, it was still intact and usable; an heirloom proven to be good for generations. A light bulb lit in Bess’s head. Her next creative venture was born…BessBooks.
While visiting her son Grant and watching his two cats, Kitty and Tiger, Bess had an “aha” moment. Kitty and Tiger were the perfect soft, furry cat characters for the first four BessBooks.
Incorporating her background in Early Childhood Education and experience in working with young children, Bess wrote and illustrated BessBooks to be developmentally appropriate and exciting for babies and young children. Bess duplicated the construction of Rod’s cloth book since it is durable, having lasted for three generations.
Bess is proud that she has environmentally sound products for babies and young children that are soft, safe, educational and fun! Heirlooms that your children’s children can love…timeless.