• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Indie Spotlight > Indie Post: Creating Children’s Bookstore Memories
  • OhMG! News

    New-Oh-MG-critter

    April 11, 2014:
    Fall 2014 Children's Sneak Peek
    A peek at forthcoming middle grade books (as well as picture books and YA books) in a round-up from Publisher's Weekly. First printed in the February 22 issue, but now available online. Time to add to your to-read list. Read more ...

    April 9, 2014:
    How many Newbery winners have you read?
    You could make a traditional list of all the Newbery Medal Award-winning Children's Books you've read, but there's something so satisfying when you check them off and get a final tally on this BuzzFeed quiz. Read more ...

    March 28, 2014:
    Middle Grade fiction is hot at 2014 Bologna Children's Book Fair

    For the second year in a row, publishers are clamoring for middle-grade, reporters Publishers Weekly. "I’ve been coming [to Bologna] for 12 to 15 years, and I’ve never had as many European publishers asking for middle-grade," said Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency. Read more ...

    February 14, 2014:
    Cybils Awards announced
    Ultra by David Carroll (Scholastic Canada) wins the Cybil for middle grade fiction; Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney Hyperion) wins for Speculative Fiction. Read more.

    January 27, 2014: And the Newbery Medal goes to ...
    Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery Medal for "Flora & Ulysses"; Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Author award for "P.S. Be Eleven." Newbery Honor awards to authors Vince Vawter, Amy Timberlake, Kevin Henkes and Holly Black. For all the exciting ALA Youth Media Award News ... READ MORE

    November 12, 2013:
    Vote in the GoodReads semifinal round

    Readers' votes have narrowed the middle-grade semifinals down to 20 titles. Log in to your GoodReads account and vote for your favorite middle-grade (and in other categories, of course). Read more ...

    November 9, 2013:
    Publishers Weekly Top Children's Books of 2013

    Middle-grade and young adult titles selected by the editors of Publishers Weekly as their top picks of the year. Let the season of "top ten books" begin! Read more ...

    October 14, 2013:
    Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids debuts January 2014

    Shelf Media Group, publisher of Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine, will launch a new free digital-only publication for middle-grade readers. The debut issue features interviews with such notable authors as Margaret Peterson Haddix and Chris Grabenstein as well as reviews, excerpts, and more. Middle Shelf will be published bi-monthly beginning in January 2014.
    Read more ...

    September 19, 2013: Writer-in-Residence program at Thurber House

    Dream of time and space to focus on your own writing project? Applications now being accepted (11/1/2013 deadline) for The Thurber House Residency in Children's Literature, a month-long retreat in the furnished third-floor apartment of Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Read more ...

    September 18, 2013: Vermont College of Fine Arts Scholarship opportunity

    Barry Goldblatt Literary launches The Angela Johnson Scholarship, a talent-based grant for writers of color attending the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program at VCFA. Up to two $5,000 grants will be awarded each year. Read more ....

    September 16, 2013:
    National Book Awards longlist for youth literature

    For the first time, the NBA is presenting lists of 10 books/authors on the longlist in each category. The 2013 young adult literature list includes five middle grade novels and five YA. Read more ...

    Sept. 13, 2013: Spring preview
    Check out Publishers Weekly roundup of upcoming children's books to be published in spring 2014. Read more...

    August 21, 2013:
    Want to be a Cybils Award Judge?

    Middle grade categories are fiction, speculative fiction, nonfiction. Applications due August 31! Read more ...

    August 19, 2013:
    S&S and BN reach a deal
    Readers will soon be able to find books from Simon & Schuster at Barnes & Noble. The bookstore chain was locked in a disagreement with the publisher over how much it was willing to pay for books. Read more ...

    August 6, 2013:
    NPR's 100 Must-Reads for Kids
    NPR's Backseat Book Club asked listeners to nominate their favorite books for readers ages 9 to 14. More than 2,000 people nominated titles, and a panel of Newbery authors brought the list to 100. Most are middle grade books. Read more ...

     
    July 2, 2013:
    Penguin & Random House Merger

    The new company, Penguin Random House, will control more than 25 percent of the trade book market in the United States. On Monday, the newly formed company began to take shape, only hours after a middle-of-the-night announcement that the long-planned merger had been completed. Read more ...

    March 28, 2013: Big at Bologna

     This year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the focus has shifted to middle-grade.  “A lot of foreign publishers are cutting back on YA and are looking for middle-grade,” said agent Laura Langlie, according to Publisher's Weekly.  Lighly illustrated or stand-alone contemporary middle-grade fiction is getting the most attention.  Read more...

     

    March 10, 2013: Marching to New Titles

    Check out these titles releasing in March...

     

    March 5, 2013: Catch the BEA Buzz

    Titles for BEA's Editor Buzz panels have been announced.  The middle-grade titles selected are:

    A Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson

    Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward

    Nick and Tesla's High-Voltages Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

    The Tie Fetch by Amy Herrick

    For more Buzz books in other categories, read more...

     

    February 20, 2013: Lunching at the MG Roundtable 

    Earlier this month, MG authors Jeanne Birdsall, Rebecca Stead, and N.D. Wilson shared insight about writing for the middle grades at an informal luncheon with librarians held in conjunction with the New York Public Library's Children's Literary Salon "Middle Grade: Surviving the Onslaught."

    Read about their thoughts...

     

    February 10, 2013: New Books to Love

    Check out these new titles releasing in February...

     

    January 28, 2013: Ivan Tops List of Winners

    The American Library Association today honored the best of the best from 2012, announcing the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards, along with a host of other prestigious youth media awards, at their annual winter meeting in Seattle.

    The Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Honor books were: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin; and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

    The Coretta Scott King Book Award went to Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

    The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award,which honors an author for his or her long-standing contributions to children’s literature, was presented to Katherine Paterson.

    The Pura Belpre Author Award, which honors a Latino author, went to Benjamin Alire Saenz for his novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which was also named a Printz Honor book and won the Stonewall Book Award for its portrayal of the GLBT experience.

    For a complete list of winners…

     

    January 22, 2013: Biography Wins Sydney Taylor

    Louise Borden's His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, a verse biography of the Swedish humanitarian, has won the Sydney Taylor Award in the middle-grade category. The award is given annually to books of the highest literary merit that highlight the Jewish experience. Aimee Lurie, chair of the awards committee, writes, "Louise Borden's well-researched biography will, without a doubt, inspire children to perform acts of kindness and speak out against oppression."

    For more...

     

    January 17, 2013: Erdrich Wins Second O'Dell

    Louise Erdrich is recipient of the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for her historical novel Chickadee, the fourth book in herBirchbark House series. Roger Sutton,Horn Book editor and chair of the awards committee, says of Chickadee,"The book has humor and suspense (and disarmingly simple pencil illustrations by the author), providing a picture of 1860s Anishinabe life that is never didactic or exotic and is briskly detailed with the kind of information young readers enjoy." Erdrich also won the O'Dell Award in 2006 for The Game of Silence, the second book in theBirchbark series. 

    For more...

     

    January 15, 2013: After the Call

    Past Newbery winners Jack Gantos, Clare Vanderpool, Neil Gaiman, Rebecca Stead, and Laura Amy Schlitz talk about how winning the Newbery changed (or didn't change) their lives in this piece from Publishers Weekly...

     

    January 2, 2013: On the Big Screen

    One of our Mixed-up Files members may be headed to the movies! Jennifer Nielsen's fantasy adventure novel The False Prince is being adapted for Paramount Pictures by Bryan Cogman, story editor for HBO's Game of Thrones. For more...

     

  • Subscribe!

    Get email updates:

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

Indie Post: Creating Children’s Bookstore Memories

Indie Spotlight

This month, with the holidays and the New Year coming on, Mixed-Up Files is saluting all children’s bookstores everywhere, and remembering a few individual gems we’ve featured in 2012.

www.takeyourchildtoabookstore.org

Kids can get overwhelmed with gifts of things, especially at this time of year. Yet we know that the most lasting childhood memories are not of things but of experiences, especially shared experiences.   A good book is both a thing and an experience, shared in a sense with the author and with everyone else who reads it. So isn’t a book the ideal gift?

And it’s so easy! Go online any time of day or night and in less than five minutes you can order your child a book tax-free at a big discount, and it will magically appear a few days later, even gift-wrapped, if you so choose.  Or, if you need the book sooner, you can wait until open hours at the nearest chain store where you’re bound to find something appropriate from their large selection.

Whoa.  What if, instead, you invite the child to come with you to real children’s bookstore to choose his or her own books,  even make a day trip to another town if there’s no such store where you live?  What will reward your extra effort?

A unique atmosphere

All online and chain bookstores are alike in predictable ways, on purpose. Chains are concerned with “brand” and want all their stores everywhere in the country to have a familiar look and feel.  And there are not many places to sit down (unless you buy something at the café), because they don’t want you to browse and read.  They want you to get to the checkout counter.

Each child’s bookstore is different in its own way, a unique world, created by owners who delight in children and children’s books.  It’s their dream come true of what a children’s bookstore should be. Can you stay all night and read at Barnes and Noble?  You can at Velveteen Rabbit Book Shop and Guest House in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Can you get a moustache out of a vending machine there?  You can at Green Bean Books in Portland, Oregon.  Are the walls bursting with colorful art and the signatures of visiting authors?Are there live animals roaming the store—cats and chickens and chinchillas?   Encounter  them at Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis.

Browsing at Wild Rumpus

There’s a welcoming magic in children’s bookstores that children young and old (and the child in us) respond to immediately.

Real people

All physical bookstores have people in them.  But in a children’s bookstore, you can be sure these will be people who know children and books. Their main job is to help find just the right ones for a child, and they aren’t required to spend part of their time at a table up front, demonstrating and promoting their company’s latest e-reading device.    (Note to children’s authors:  these independent booksellers are also the ones who actually read, know, and hand-sell your books).

Real choice

At first it might seem that a big chain store could offer you a better choice of books than a small independent. But it matters who chooses the books and why.  Independent booksellers can and do choose to carry—or not carry— any books they like, and they can display and promote them however they want to.  Of course, you say.   But most of the titles in a chain store have been selected, not by the people who work there, but by remote company experts who have made a guess about what you will be likely to buy and who need you to fulfill their predictions. Independent booksellers are on-the-spot curators who can sort out quality from hype, and can lead you to their favorites and yours, often less-publicized great finds you might not otherwise have discovered.

Higher prices

Though independent bookstores may offer some modest sales and membership discounts, most have to charge the cover price for a book.  You may feel foolish, even guilty, paying full price plus tax for something you know is available at a deep discount and tax-free elsewhere, but in this case you  get what you  pay for.

A great time with the child

When you make a trip with a child to a children’s bookstore, inviting him or her to enter the atmosphere and browse and choose to his or her heart’s content, you create an experience neither of you will soon forget.  Priceless.

The chance to support a community

That cover price and tax you pay at an independent bookstore– where does it go? Some to the publisher, of course, but, unlike the money we spend online or at a chain, the rest goes to the local community.  Children’s bookstores stay alive by responding to the needs of their neighbors—listening to their preferences, developing personal relationships with customers young and old,  creating unique events and programs for them, and championing local authors as well as nationally known ones.  Aren’t such stores, and the communities that have the wisdom to sustain them, worthy of our support?

Hunger Games training camp, Little Shop of Storiesand championing local authors as well as nationally known ones.  Aren’t such a store, and a community that has the wisdom to sustain it, worthy of our support?

A chance to vote

Every time we spend money one way rather than another, we are casting a vote for what we value and want to see thrive.  So what’ll it be? Amazon and Barnes & Noble* or places like Blue Manatee, Eight Cousins, and The Little Shop of Stories?

 

 

 

 

Ask a child who’s been there!

 

*If online is really the only way you can buy children’s books this season, you can still order them through independent stores.  Many children’s bookstores fill online orders, including a number of the following that we have featured so far this year:

The Green Bean, Portland OR: www.greenbeanbookspdx.com
Blue Manatee, Cincinnati OH: www.bluemanateebooks.com

The Eight Cousins, Falmouth MA:  www.eightcousins.com

The Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis MN: www.wildrumpusbooks.com

The Little Shop of Stories, Decatur GA: www.littleshopofstories.com

Bbgb (Bring Back Great Books), Richmond VA: www.bbgbbooks.com

The Velveteen Rabbit, Book Shop and Guest House, Fort Atkinson WI: www.velveteenrabbitcookshop

Monkey See, Monkey Do, Clarence NY: www.monkeysread.com

Or you can go to the largest independent bookstore in the country at www.powells.com or to www.indybound.org and order from them.

If you and the children you love have fine memories of visiting a children’s bookstore, please tell us the story in a comment below.  Do you have a favorite shop you think we should feature in 2013?   Next month we’ll be talking to the folks at Reading Reptile in Kansas City.

Sue Cowing lives in Honolulu HI, 2,000 miles from the nearest children’s bookstore.  She is the author of a middle-grade puppet-and-boy novel, You Will Call Me Drog (Carolrhoda Books 2011, Usborne UK 2013)

8 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Rosanne Parry  •  Nov 27, 2012 @1:41 am

    Thanks for all you’ve done to highlight Indie Gems of the bookstore world. They have such a valuable role in highlighting good books that don’t have a big industry push behind them.

  2. Sue Cowing  •  Nov 27, 2012 @9:14 am

    And thanks to you, Rosanne, for introducing me to Green Bean Books. Indie shops are so much more fun. And yes, invaluable. More to come each month in 2013!

  3. Michele Weber Hurwitz  •  Nov 27, 2012 @7:09 pm

    Great post, Sue! I love reading about all the children’s bookstores around the country. I’m thrilled there are still so many to delight young and old! There used to be one in my area (north suburbs of Chicago) — Crocodile Pie — but it closed :(

    Sue Cowing Reply:

    @Michele Weber Hurwitz, Crocodile Pie! Don’t you love the names owners come up with? I’m delighted too at all the shops I’m finding and especially new ones that are thriving. I’m looking at several Chicago-area shops for future posts. Ever been to Chicago Kids Bookstore or Women and Children First? Andersons’ Bookshop in Downers Grove or Magic Tree in Evanston or Book Table in Oak Park? If so, let me know. I’m focusing first on dedicated children’s bookstores, then later on independent bookstores with good children’s departments.

    Michele Weber Hurwitz Reply:

    @Sue Cowing, I haven’t been to those bookstores! Andersons is terrific though, such a lively, successful indie. I think their main store is in Naperville. There’s an indie I love in Winnetka, IL called The Book Stall. They have a great children’s section and always host authors. Connected to a coffee shop, too. They won the indie bookstore of the year from…PW? Can’t remember who awards that.

  4. PragmaticMom  •  Nov 27, 2012 @9:02 pm

    Dec 1st. Ok got it as a to do item! We have two indie bookstores in Newton, MA so we are very lucky. I love them both but they are very different.

  5. Sue Cowing  •  Nov 28, 2012 @2:45 pm

    Yes, you are lucky. Is one of them Newtonville Books? What’s the other? Good places to browse for children’s books?

  6. Linda Andersen  •  Dec 1, 2012 @6:45 pm

    I like the idea of taking a child to the bookstore instead of giving a giftcard or buying online. It’s a great outing and you get to see what kids are drawn to. Thanks for the suggestion.