Many years ago when Valerie Carlson Pressley read to her young children, Georgia and Logan, she noticed their excitement for books about babies and toddlers their own age.
"When my kids were in preschool, in Seattle, I could see the delight on the faces of all the children in the class as they were achieving developmental milestones," Pressley also observed.
She wanted to buy books for her children on their birthdays highlighting their milestones -- from first steps to kicking a ball -- but couldn't find any. So she began researching early childhood development and wrote six books herself, each planned to last one year, focusing on that stage of a child's development.
"I had enrolled at the Institute of Children's Literature many years ago, and received one-on-one instruction, writing and feedback," Pressley recalled. "Then my love for writing for kids certainly was renewed when I became a mother myself."
Eleven years ago, the family moved to Danville. Pressley, who has a background in public relations and marketing, began working in corporate communications for a government software company based in San Ramon six years ago.
Pressley knew it was time to focus on her preschool book project when sheltering in place began in March.
"I said, 'I am absolutely doing this,'" she remembered. "I wanted to create something and bring some joy and happiness."
She signed up with Alive Book Publishing of Alamo, and began a search for an illustrator, finally settling on Kayla Lynn Olson-Surface, who is based in Minnesota.
"I really liked Kayla's style and her eagerness," Pressley said. "I was looking for more of a cartoony caricature, humorous and simple. I didn't want anything too complicated for this age group."
Pressley launched her business, Writing for Kids, earlier this month and released the first three of her six-book series.
The series kicks off with "I'm Here, I'm Here," for newborns to 12 months about the special milestones of the first year. "I'm One, I'm One!" for ages 12 to 24 months celebrates this busy year of growth; and "I'm Two, I'm Two!" is for ages 2-3.
The books are written in rhyme, and each one ends with "bye-bye," blowing a kiss, and looking forward to the year ahead.
"It's a way to connect," Pressley said, "and the flow of books takes you through the years."
Daughter Georgia, 18, is just entering the Rochester Institute of Technology to study photo journalism; son Logan, 15, attends San Ramon Valley High School. Although now well past the age of the intended audience, they were interested in the project, too.
"They have been very involved," Pressley said. "My son helped select Kayla from my choices of illustrator options, and my daughter was looking at designs and had input on that."
Pressley remembers the delight of reading to newborns and little ones as they are discovering their world, and knows her books fill an important need.
"These books provide a wonderful way to read together, re-live individual milestones that are unique to your child, and delight in what's to come," she said.
Pressley pointed out research has shown that in addition to the benefits of one-on-one bonding time during reading, exposing little ones to a range of emotions, visuals, letters, numbers and developmentally appropriate activities can help them more easily transition from babyhood to toddlerhood.
She released the first three books on social media on Labor Day, explaining, "It's my labor of love."
Pressley said she has received inquiries from grandparents who want to buy the books to read to their grandchildren online since they can't be with them in person.
"It's a way to connect," she noted.
The books are available, for $10.95 each, from the author's website at www.writingforkids.shop, on Amazon and at BarnesandNoble.com. More information can also be found on Instagram @writingforkids, on Facebook @Writing For Kids.