I’m sure we’ve all experienced having a long forgotten* passage or scene from a book, one that resonated particularly with us as a child, suddenly resurface to mind as though summoned by a spell cast by the present moment. I devoured Peanuts books as a lad. My collection was acquired by walking to town with a quarter to get a new Fawcett Crest Peanuts paperback from a little bookstore there anytime I had the means. There were a handful of pages that I came back to many times, even though I had no clear sense as to why I was drawn to them. The other day, as I was thinking about the anemic response to this year’s Children’s Book Week at the store, one of those long forgotten Peanuts pages suddenly reappeared to my thought.
We’ve done Children’s Book Week here for years and have always had a lot of success with it. It takes a lot of outreach but has been rewarding. This year was very different and I was thinking about why. Obviously there was a transformation on the Children’s Book Council side, moving the event away from a small number of bookstore participants receiving a strong amount of support, to a large number of event locations, many libraries and bookstores, receiving very little support. In past years we could pick as many event kits as we chose, had options for free costumes, received lovely Children’s Book Week tote bags, a spreadsheet with authors on offer to our particular location, and so forth.
This level of support could not be on offer with the event having been grown to a different scale of course. Nonetheless, on reflection, I couldn’t help feeling that something had been lost in translation. The resources for the event were drawn almost entirely from our own on-hand supplies of activity kits and a local author. There was nothing special coming to us to mark the occasion.
We put on a lot of programming this year, and arranged for the event flyer to be sent home with every student in the local district, along with other outreach. We had a lot to offer but not enough to compete with a sunny day, something we had competed with successfully in the past.
Now the changes in scale and support may have served the larger good and our sense of something having been lost may well be a minority sentiment, but I certainly am wondering how other stores feel about the changes. Perhaps there is some way, even with the larger scale of participants, to make Children’s Book Week stand out? If not, I fear we must bow to Linus’ wisdom that ‘every week is children’s book week.’ In any case I’d love to hear your thoughts.
* or pretty long depending on how old you are.