For Dr. Liz Kiilerich-Bowles and Jessica Bates, reading and education have been lifelong passions. Now, they’re combining their passions and skills and providing the city of Nolensville with a children’s bookstore, The Nolensville Book Nook. 

Kiilerich-Bowles and Bates have been friends since they were in middle school, both attending Meigs Middle Magnet School and later, Hume-Fogg High School.

Although they parted ways after graduating, they maintained a close friendship and eventually saw themselves making their way back to the Middle Tennessee area. Kiilerich-Bowles now resides in Nolensville with her three children, and Bates lives in Murfreesboro with two children of her own. 

Kiilerich-Bowles has been an educator for 15 years. For 13 of those, she was a first grade teacher. When the pandemic began in 2020, she decided to take some time off to be home with her three children.

Then, she made the decision to teach at the preschool level, which is where the idea for the Nolensville Book Nook began. She said working with preschoolers reminded her of how important literacy is for young children.

“I realized Nolensville did not have a children’s bookstore,” Kiilerich-Bowles said, “So it kind of was this lightbulb of — I love taking my kids to the bookstore, and there’s lots of families here in Nolensville with young children, and you know, was a gap that was missing for our town.”

In October of last year, she called up Bates with the idea to start a bookstore of their own. 

“When Liz called me one day last October and said, ‘I have this crazy idea, let’s start a bookstore,’ I was like, of course, all in,” Bates said. 

“Reading and books and writing were always a big part of my life and a big part of who I am, and so when I had kids, it obviously continued, and I feel a lot of excitement watching them interact with books and all the worlds that books can open for you,” Bates added. 

Bates is a part of a local writing group and also has a self-published book of poetry. She credits her love of literature to her grandfather, who sold books to libraries and book fairs. 

“It kind of feels like a full circle moment for me to be stepping in as a book seller,” Bates said. 

The two started selling books at local pop ups around Nolensville and the surrounding areas, but always knew they wanted to eventually settle into a brick-and-mortar store. In the beginning, they were operating out of Kiilerich-Bowles’ dining room with an inventory of about 1,700 books. 

After looking at several different store locations, on July 11 they received the keys to their new location. The bookstore will share a space with Nolensville’s Southern Eatery and will be located in the front section of the restaurant.

The plan for the bookstore, which will celebrate its opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sunday, July 31, at noon, is to facilitate community and bring readers of all ages together. 

“We really want to create a space where not only can you come look at books and see awesome books we’ve curated, but a space for community and classes and connection,” Bates said. 

Kiilerich-Bowles echoed Bates and said, “We really want to create that space that’s comfortable for kids to be in an environment where they can explore books and pick the books up off the shelves and not feel like they have to be extremely careful and remember where they got it and really discover their favorite books.” 

Both want to make sure every child knows that they don’t have to worry about where to put a book back or what they can or cannot touch. They want the kids who come to the store to feel free to explore what it has to offer freely.

The duo has planned numerous classes, activities and events for Nolensvillians to enjoy. Throughout the month, there will be a music class for preschoolers every other week, a bilingual story time with a Spanish-speaking instructor who will do crafts and activities with the kids, and an early literacy class for young children.

Some of the classes will be free and some will be paid. They will also host a book club for adults and parents as well as a young adult book club. 

To further their reach in the community, The Nolensville Book Nook will offer a monthly or quarterly curated book bundle where customers can sign up to receive a set of books delivered free in Nolensville or shipped anywhere. 

Bates said she’s noticed that a lot of parents want to engage their children with books, but may not know exactly what to pick or where to start. She hopes that the book bundle will help kids connect with literature in a fresh and exciting way. 

One of the upcoming events they are most excited for is a Q&A session and discussion with local author, Jeff Zentner. Zenter’s book, “The Serpent King,” is going to be one of the bookstore’s first book club selections and anyone who wants to to chat with him about the book will get the chance to in October.

Bates said they plan to continue hosting local authors at the bookstore as they continue to grow. 

Kiilerich-Bowles is most excited for the community building that the bookstore will provide. Even through their first pop-ups before they had the brick-and-mortar store, she said she met so many women who were dedicated to supporting and uplifting other women. She hopes that the bookstore will further facilitate that as well as bring together anyone who is passionate about reading. 

At the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sunday, Kiilerich-Bowles and Bates will join together with a few city commissioners to welcome locals into the store and celebrate.

There will be food and beverages for adults and children, as well as a few giveaways. Guests will also get the chance to learn about all of the bookstore’s different offerings, which will be highlighted around the store. The celebration begins at noon and will wrap up at 4 p.m.

The Nolensville Book Nook is located at 7301 Nolensville Road, Nolensville, TN, 37135. Store hours are Wednesday and Thursday from 1-5 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, click here.