More than 250 independent bookstores across the country are preparing to host events for the 98th annual celebration of Children’s Book Week, from Monday, May 1, through Sunday, May 7. Activities include author and costume character appearances, parties, contests, games, and more.
Overall, this year’s celebration of children’s books and literacy will include 705 schools, libraries, and independent bookstores. Children’s Book Week is organized by Every Child a Reader, a nonprofit literacy organization supported by the Children’s Book Council (CBC) and donations from individuals, foundations, and others.
“I am thrilled to be a part of making the 98th annual Children’s Book Week the biggest one yet,” said Children’s Book Council Executive Director Carl Lennertz. “My heartfelt thanks go out to the indie booksellers who are jumping in with one to five events between May 1 and 7, so soon after Independent Bookstore Day. Thank you, longtime and new indie friends!”
In Bluffton, South Carolina, Children’s Book Week plans involve the local police and fire departments, according to Sally Sue Lavigne, owner of The Storybook Shoppe.
“We’re really excited about participating in Children’s Book Week this year,” said Lavigne. “This is our second year taking part, and we have three different events planned.”
The Storybook Shoppe has partnered with the Bluffton Fire Department and the Bluffton Police Department for a Local Heroes Story Time in the Park on Monday morning, May 1. In the city’s DuBois Park, police officers and firefighters will be reading stories, and kids will be able to take a tour of a fire truck and a police vehicle. Attendees will also be treated to a special demonstration by the police department’s K-9 unit.
On Thursday, the Bluffton Farmers Market will host Authors at the Market, Lavigne said, featuring several local children’s authors reading their books. The week will wrap up with a Llama Llama Are You My Momma? party at the store on Saturday, May 6, featuring story time, games, and an appearance by the Llama Llama costumed character.
Changing Hands, which has store locations in Tempe and Phoenix, Arizona, will be hosting middle grade and YA authors throughout Children’s Book Week, including YouTuber Hunter March, author of TBH: 51 True Story Collabs (Scholastic); Adam Rubin, author of Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel (Dial Books); Rachel Cohn, author of Kill All Happies (Disney-Hyperion); and Sarah J. Maas, author of A Court of Wings and Ruin (Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books).
Changing Hands’ Phoenix location will also launch the store’s free Kindergarten Bootcamp, a seven-week workshop for parents that provides tools to ensure their child’s success in school, led by author and Phoenix Public Library Early Literacy Specialist Tom Leveen. The store is also offering customers the chance to sit in on a Rep Picks meeting with three publisher sales reps — Nic Dufort from Random House, Rick Cobban from Little, Brown, and Roz Hilden from Scholastic — to hear about new children’s books they can look forward to this summer.
“We did it last year for the public with our adult reps, and it was popular, so I thought it would be really cool to do it for Children’s Book Week, too,” said Changing Hands Children’s Book Buyer Brandi Stewart. “We have a lot of parents and guardians come in for recommendations from the staff, but I thought it would be fun to have the sales reps in here. We thought this would be a good way to get the parents involved in Children’s Book Week.”
For a new iteration of its previous ARC reviewing program, Changing Hands staff has created “Kid’s Pick” book review cards for students to fill out when they visit the store. The book reviews will be posted throughout the children’s section.
“It’s basically like staff picks but we have students do it,” said Stewart. “Kids come in and write reviews and they get school credit for it. This year, we expanded it to both stores and reached out to schools in Phoenix and Tempe.”
Children’s Book Week celebrations at Changing Hands will wind down on Saturday, May 6, with a costume story time led by local author/illustrator and Caldecott honoree Molly Idle. Kids will be encouraged to dress up in their favorite costumes and party with two special guests, Danny’s Dinosaur and Olivia costumed characters.
At Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore in Indianapolis, Indiana, owner Shirley Mullin is preparing for her store’s third annual celebration of Children’s Book Week, which will be its biggest yet.
“We’re doing a lot more this year than we’ve ever done,” said Mullin. “We’ll be hosting several different activities over the course of the week. Last year we had about 35 children come in for events throughout the week, but I think we’ll have a lot more this year. We’re also doing more things geared toward children who are a little older.”
Kids Ink’s celebration will begin with a pre-Children’s Book Week event on Saturday, April 29, for Independent Bookstore Day. The store will be hosting a survival workshop for young adults taught by Mike Mullin, author of the Ashfall series, and Laura Martin, author of the Edge of Extinction series. Mullin and Martin will be showing tweens and teens how to filter water, do simple first aid, make a compass, read paper maps, and tie knots.
On Monday, May 1, following a presentation for students at a local school, Kids Ink will host a reception for Michael Borstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat, co-authors of Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner at Auschwitz (FSG Books for Young Readers). On Thursday, May 4, Helen Frost and Rick Lieder, author and photographer for Wake Up! (Candlewick), will be in the store to talk to visiting classes from a nearby school, and on Saturday, May 6, author Terry Border will be signing his book Peanut Butter & Cupcake (Philomel Books).
Billie Bloebaum, a bookseller and buyer at Third Street Books in McMinnville, Oregon, said her store didn’t participate in Children’s Book Week last year, but the staff is excited to participate this year. The store has scheduled an Elephant and Piggie Story Time during the store’s regular Monday story time, as well as a Star Wars Story Time on May the Fourth. Throughout the week, the store will be offering “Blind Date With a Kids’ Book,” where selected children’s books on sale are covered in brown paper to obscure their titles; proceeds will benefit the statewide literacy program SMART (Start Making A Reader Today).
“Because we don’t have a lot of experience with Children’s Book Week, we’re staying a little low-key this year,” said Bloebaum. “There are a couple of other small things, including drawings for signed books, activities, and giveaways, but we’re a small store with a small staff and we want to start small. Once we have a year or two under our belts, we’ll probably have the confidence to expand our offerings. Right now, it’s more about building awareness with our customers and our community so that in the future they start asking us about our plans and even offer ideas for what they’d like to see.”
To find downloadable resource materials for Children’s Book Week, booksellers can visit the Children’s Book Week webpage. A new interactive map was created by former ABA technology director Matt Supko, now a developer at Augment Digital Workshop. Links to the listed events are also available on the website.
Beginning this week, the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader are also inviting independent bookstores, libraries, and schools to participate in the One World, Many Stories display contest for this year’s Children’s Book Week.
Booksellers should also be aware that the voting period for the Children’s & Teen Choice Book Awards ends on Sunday, May 7. National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang will announce the winners at BookExpo at the 2017 Silent Art Auction.