by Kay Kendall
Do you know the first Saturday in December is a national holiday? Yes, since 2010, Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day has been celebrated. Suspense novelist Jenny Milchman conceived the idea after reading about the demise of some bookstores and wanting the remaining ones kept vibrant for the sake of her own two children, future grandchildren, and everyone else’s kids too.
“I wasn’t prepared for the response to my idea,” Jenny says. “Bloggers took it viral. Shelf Awareness, the national e-newsletter for the book industry, covered it, and then the American Booksellers Association got involved. Before I knew it, Take Your Child Day to a Bookstore Day reached more than 80 stores in 30 states and two foreign countries.” Participants got the basic concept right away–that in order for bookstores to flourish and thrive, future generations needed to be exposed in their early years to the unique pleasures that these places offer.
Now TYCBD is celebrated by 500 bookstores in all 50 states plus seven Canadian provinces, and three foreign countries–England, Australia, and Germany. This year a new board of directors is working to acquire national non-profit status for the organization. Once that is established, many more activities become possible, for example, field trips to bookstores for children in at-risk areas. The organization hopes to offer grants for children who can’t visit a bookstore on their own or perhaps internships for kids who want one day to own their own bookstores.
Bookstore owners Mary and Greg Bruss were the first booksellers to approach Jenny about TYCBD. They had established Mysteries & More in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2008. Two years later, they heard about Jenny’s brainchild and approached her. Greg says, “As soon as we learned about the idea, we were eager to participate. Mary and I can always see the personality and behavioral differences between the children who come to our store who’re readers and those who aren’t. We firmly believe it’s important to encourage children to enjoy reading as a key component in their education and development as young adults.”
The first Saturday in December has become a special day for bookstores everywhere to hang posters in windows, give out bookmarks and plan special celebrations for families in their stores. Jenny is excited to promote this event since she has loved bookstores all her life. “A bookstore is a welcoming place for kids as well as adults, at the heart of any thriving community. It’s a place to exchange ideas, find the next book that will fuel a dialog at home, and entertain our children without a screen or device.”
Jenny and her family recently moved to a town in the Hudson Valley. Right away they visited The Golden Notebook in Woodstock and told booksellers there about the annual celebration set for December 7 this year. “That’s where we’ll be as a family. The store learned about TYCBD from us. We’re kind of returning to the origins of the holiday, which started as a town-to-town, one bookstore to one reader effort that just grew and grew. The exciting thing about TYCBD–and bookstores in America–is that both seem to be spreading.”
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