As unseemly as it is to fall in love with one of your own store’s programs, I’m afraid that fate has befallen me regarding our DDG Deserving Reader Award. The DDG Deserving Reader Award, as reported earlier here by The Shelftalker News Desk, was created when my Harper sales rep Olga Nolan called to say that she wanted to help celebrate DDG’s 25th anniversary by donating $25. The money, however, had to be spent at the store by a child who loved to read but whose family couldn’t afford to buy him books.
This of course precluded the children who come into our store and required me to think about how to locate children who love to read and would never come here. My idea was to create an award which would allow a deserving young reader the chance to be recognized for his love of reading and top it off by coming to DDG and getting $25 worth of books.
My partnership with a local school librarian and guidance counselor on this was a huge success. The young man selected received his award in front of the whole school, which meant the world to him. He visited our store recently and proved himself to be a sensational and voracious reader who was just a delight to talk books with. He turned out to share my love of middle grade fantasy and decided that, rather than pick up series books he was already following at the library, he would try three new series: Bartimaeus, Fablehaven and The Blackthorn Key.
One thing that made it even more special was that someone who had read the initial post, and was attending an author event with M.G. Leonard, had the author sign the book as seen to the left and then mailed me the book along with a check for $25 to support one more Deserving Reader. A local person who had heard about the award came into the store and handed me a $100 bill for the program.
At this point I was in love with the program, and for many reasons. First, since school was out of session, I had to network some more, this time reaching out to the Franklin County Children’s Task Force. It turned out that they had a brand new literacy initiative grant for summer programs being held in the local schools, and that our Deserving Reader program was a perfect way for them to support the children who they observed to be the most passionate and engaged readers, all of whom fit the other award criteria. Secondly, I learned a lot. For example I hadn’t really understood before that for some children, whose families don’t buy books or visit the public library, the school library is a very special place, their only place for engaging with books outside the home. The idea of making a physical bridge from the school library into DDG, of extending our school partnerships directly into the lives of these Deserving Readers, was something to warm one’s heart. What could be better or more worthy of continuing and expanding?