Just this evening, my great friend and mentor Coach Mike Tully mentioned that as a kid he read the autobiography of Ty Cobb, the legendary baseball player. Reading My Life in Baseball: The True Record proved to be a life-changing event for Coach Tully, because it set him on the path to his enduring fascination with the impact of mental strategy on athletic performance.
Surely all of us can think of a book that we read as a kid that stays with us even now. And that’s why it’s so heartening to see that children, authors, indie booksellers, and publishers are coming together in innovative ways to foster a love of words and reading among today’s kids. Here’s just a sampling of what’s happening:
When the 95th annual Children’s Book Week opened, independent bookstores celebrated the event by holding their first-ever Indies First Storytime Day. As part of the event, more than 125 independent bookstores from Maine to California held storytimes with hundreds of children’s authors, who were encouraged to share the work of other authors. The day brought together kids, parents, and indie booksellers and encouraged them to share their love of stories read aloud.
As another event building up to Children’s Book Week, the Boston-based publisher David R. Godine organized a contest in which local students in grades K through 6 were invited to answer the question: Why do you love reading? The seven winners each received a book and had the chance to read their essays, along with 26 runners up, at Porter Square Books in Cambridge. More than 80 people attended the event and afterwards, the young authors signed copies of a booklet of the essays printed by Godine and Porter Square.
Why do kids love reading? The Godine-inspired essays reveal that the answers are pretty universal: reading helps them write imaginative stories of their own; it offers information and entertainment; and it provides solace when they are upset. “It was a wonderful celebration of reading, and we at Porter Square Books felt very lucky to share it,” observed director of marketing Josh Cook. “Over the course of the event, other customers would walk up to the desk and say something along the lines of, ‘This is so great.'”
With so many distractions competing for kids’ time, it’s very heartening to see that indie bookstores and innovative publishers are coming up with creative ways to celebrate the joys of storytelling and to encourage future readers. Write on!