Last fall Sherman Alexie launched the Indies First movement and encouraged authors to support their local indies by handselling books on Small Business Saturday. Now as part of the celebration of the 95th annual Children's Book Week (May 12–18), the Children's Book Council, Every Child a Reader (the organization that runs CBW), and the American Booksellers Association are launching an Indies First Storytime Day on Saturday, May 17. Kate DiCamillo, the current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and author of the 2014 Newbery Award-winning Flora & Ulysses, volunteered to be this year’s spokesperson.
“We are (with the express permission of Sherman Alexie, mind you) stealing this idea and running with it,” DiCamillo wrote in a letter posted on the ABA's dedicated web page for Indies First Storytime Day. “The point is to show up and to read aloud, to celebrate stories and to celebrate the indies who work so hard to put our stories in the hands of readers.” The CBC forwarded DiCamillo's letter to its member publishers and is asking them to send it to their authors and illustrators. Since last week’s initial announcement in Bookselling This Week, Blue Willow Books in Houston, Tex.; Changing Hands in Tempe, Ariz., and Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor, Mich., have signed up, as have author/illustrator Molly Idle and author Shanda Trent. A complete map of events is available on IndieBound.org.
But when authors and illustrators come to celebrate Indies First Storytime Day, they won't be reading from their own work. As DiCamillo explained to PW, "That way the event can be less about us as authors and more about the power of story and about bookstores as a place to gather for story." As for the impetus behind the focus on storytelling over handselling last November, she says, "I think that reading a story aloud together is a way for people of all ages to connect. Reading together gives us a chance to 'see' each other."
So far the CBC couldn't be more excited with its anniversary and Storytime Day. "So many great things are coming together for Children’s Book Week this year," says CBC/ECR executive director Robin Adelson. "The 95th celebration will be fantastic. For the first time, official events will be held in all 50 states, and in many states, [they] will be held in more than one city,"
As for what DiCamillo will be reading on May 17? "Well, I am crazy about that pigeon book (Yo, Mo!) and even though I don't really want Jon Sczieska to know it, I do think very highly of The Stinky Cheese Man. So, we'll see. As to where I'm going to go: we are still figuring that out. Stay tuned."