In a case of life imitating literature, Barron’s Educational Series has launched a letter-writing campaign in celebration of a new picture book, Dear Dinosaur: With Real Letters to Read!, by Chae Strathie, illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne. The book, which published on July 1, tells the story of a boy named Max whose curiosity about dinosaurs leads him to become pen pals with the T. Rex on display at a local museum.
The campaign kicked off with a storytime and letter-writing event on July 25 at the Learning Express at Quarry Market in San Antonio, Tex. Young readers were invited to write notes to the book’s titular dinosaur while enjoying dino-themed snacks. The publicity team at Barron’s will craft personalized responses to each letter sent to the publisher’s offices, or via email, signing as T. Rex. All participants will also be entered into a contest for a chance to win a dinosaur plush and a selection of Barron’s children’s books.
Barron’s hosted a second letter writing event on July 27 at the Learning Express in Tulsa, Okla., and plans to hold additional events across the country as part of the ongoing marketing initiative. To date, six more events are in the planning stages. The publisher is currently offering booksellers a special deal: buy five copies of Dear Dinosaur and get one free. Participating stores will also receive an event kit, including a shelf talker with information about the letter campaign, a poster, and a lesson plan for grades K–3, written by a second grade teacher.
Books-A-Million is promoting Dear Dinosaur with shelf talkers in all of its locations, and indie bookstores including Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, N.C., Word Bookstore in Brooklyn and Jersey City, Book Revue in Huntington, N.Y., Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, Pa., and BookPeople in Austin have accepted the special offer. Barron’s also plans to set up events at schools and libraries when school resumes in the fall. So far, three school events have been confirmed; the campaign will run through November 15.
Eric Lowenhar, marketing and publicity manager at Barron’s Educational Series, told PW, “We’ve put together a comprehensive campaign for Dear Dinosaur that targets booksellers and educators, but also provides children with a valuable lesson: the joy of writing a letter, putting it in an envelope with a stamp and mailing—or sending the email—and waiting for, and eventually getting, a reply. We are thrilled to see that kids, educators, and booksellers are really getting behind this campaign.”