I am once again proud to welcome back author Jenny Milchman to Always With A Book and to offer my support to Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, held the first Saturday of December. Now in its 6th year, Jenny has taken the idea a step further. Read on to see how.
Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day begin in 2010 when I had two young children whom I was taking to story hour at our local bookstore almost every week. I got both a hot drink and to watch their faces as someone else besides Mommy brought a story to life.
I was also a struggling writer at the time. Wary of my kids having to see a mom who was increasingly frustrated and disappointed by the vagaries - read: inevitable rejection - of the industry, I was always on the lookout for fun ways to fill out day versus endlessly clicking "get mail" on my computer screen, hoping for good news. Time at a bookstore certainly qualified as fun - and it was a great way for me to stay connected to the world of books.
After a while, I began to wonder: did all children know the joy of time spent in a bookstore?
Inspired by Days such as Take Your Daughter to Work, I floated the idea for a special holiday linking kids and bookstores. Bloggers and listserv members took to the web and before I knew it, 80 bookstores were celebrating just two weeks later on the first Saturday of December. Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day coincided with holiday gift giving, encouraging booksellers to host story hours, author events, craft and cooking demonstrations, and even magic shows designed to give kids a special activity while their parents shopped and browsed. Local businesses gained increased support and families had a wonderful time.
That summer, my husband and I packed our kids into the car and drove cross country, visiting bookstores with Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day bookmarks and posters. We saw the United States one bookstore at a time. The trip offered us a window into different regions of this great land, while driving home the reality of how we are connected. For books connect us in a deeper way than texts or followers ever can - as wonderful and enriching as those connections can be. Still, a smile is not the same as an emoticon, and the virtual world is not a replacement for the face-to-face. We met real friends, some of them once only Facebook friends, in bookstores on the road.
By the following year, Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day had grown to nearly 300 bookstores.
And today TYCBD is celebrated by over 800 bookstores, including one national chain, on five continents. The celebrations are more lavish than ever - as unique as each bookstore in which they are held. Open Book in Wadena, MN, for example, is inviting a story-loving Great Pyrenees in so that the children can read to her!
But there's more news about this year's Day - something that's been a long time in the making, and a special dream of mine. After all, I had finally gotten published, and was very aware of the doors that can be opened by books. How could I make sure that all children were able to access the same kind of opportunities? With one in five kids in the United States "food insecure," owning a book can be an unheard of luxury. TYCBD should be a Day in which every child can take part.
Now, thanks to the help of generous donors, the expertise of fellow author and grant writer Dan Barrett, and elementary school teacher and writer Heidi Sprouse who took to the streets to drum up support, a rural community in New York State will be able to send two pre-K classes to their town's local bookstore. Each child will get to purchase a book of their own - in some cases, the first the child has ever owned - take part in a kiddie writers' workshop, and discuss the excitement of the Day over pizza with classmates and teachers afterwards.
On December 5th, take your children, a child in your life, or even the child inside yourself to the nearest bookstore. I promise you will find a gift that keeps on giving long after the last page is turned.
To find out more, please go to: http://www.takeyourchildtoabookstore.org/
Jenny Milchman is the author of three novels of psychological suspense published by Ballantine, and the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day.
I hope you will consider participating in this day and helping me help Jenny in promoting it!!! And I can't wait to hear how those pre-K children enjoy their day...that sure sounds like a fun experience for them!!! This is an idea I fully support - both the day and the pilot program - getting books in kids hands and gettings kids to see the magic of walking into a bookstore - it sure makes my heart happy :)