Erin Pate is all books and smiles

Susan EspirituWest Knox County

Erin Pate has the heart of an educator, knowing from an early age she was destined to be a teacher. For over a decade, her dream was realized in a Rocky Hill Elementary third grade classroom.

Erin learned many skills during this time as she was not only allowed to focus primarily on reading/language arts, but she was trained to be a lead teacher, a position placing her observing other teachers’ classrooms.

Lane and Nora Pate

It was after her second daughter was born, Erin decided to focus on raising her two daughters, bringing her education background home to jumpstart their individual educations.

Erin recalls, “At first this looked like teaching shapes, colors, vocabulary. Then it turned into phonemic awareness, number sense, and now with my oldest, learning to read!

“My daughters are incredibly different and have very different learning styles. So, it feels very much like the classroom – what worked with one child doesn’t necessarily work with the other. It’s been fun to adapt to their learning needs just like I did in the classroom.”

As Erin began talking with friends, something kept nudging her. She frequently got questions about teaching a child to read and what books to pick for different types of readers. She realized she could offer something by sharing this information with more than just friends who ask. She had knowledge to spark a love for learning – specifically reading – and she could share it.

In January 2024, Erin listened to that inner voice and started her Instagram account, BooksandSmiles to share book recommendations and also tips for how to engage children in reading.

“Knowledge is truly power, and I hope my account can help parents in some small way. Whether that’s in finding the right books to get their child hooked on reading, helping equip preschool parents with the right tools in laying a literacy foundation, or giving helpful guidance to parents who have kids in early elementary school who may be struggling readers.

“It’s a joy to share what I’ve learned over the years.”

Since her girls are 3 and 5-½, her account largely focuses on younger readers which fits one of her favorite quotes by Emilie Buchwald, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents”

Erin says every time a parent reaches out to share a picture of their child(ren) reading a book she has recommended, it validates her efforts, because it takes time to research books and read through them to make sure they’re quality.

As a former reading teacher myself, this site is a quality gift to parents.

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