At Tuesday's Children's Book and Author Breakfast, two bookstores received the WNBA Pannell Award, given annually since 1983 by the Women's National Book Association. The 2011 winner in the general bookstore category is Queen Anne Books in Seattle, and Fairytales Bookstore & More in Nashville clinched the award in the children's specialty store category.
Each winner of the Pannell Award, which is underwritten by a gift from Penguin Young Readers Group, received $1,000 and a framed piece of original art, this year contributed by Caldecott Medalist Erin E. Stead, from her upcoming book, And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano, and by Matthew Myers, from his Tyrannosaurus Dad, written by Liz Rosenberg.
The jurors praised Queen Anne Books for its clear understanding of the needs of young readers "at different ages and stages" and for its creative ways of reaching them. Tegan Tigani, children's book buyer and event coordinator, noted, "We try to reach out to all ages, starting with the very youngest readers. In fact, when the store moved into our current space in 2004, it was a high priority to design the children's section so that there was room to accommodate double strollers." Tigani explained that for 10 years, the store "was lucky to have an amazing teacher in our community who came in to lead story time sessions. Though he has retired, we are trying to keep that tradition alive by partnering with a local, family-friendly coffee shop to hold story hours in their play space."
The store also works with Seattle7Writers, a nonprofit collective of Pacific Northwest authors, to promote literacy. The store donates ARCs and books that the group distributes to such places as homeless shelters and foster homes. Queen Anne also holds in-store book fairs to support schools and works with school librarians to organize in-school panel discussions about books for both students and parents. And the store sponsors a Little League team—aptly named the Bookworms—whose uniforms sport the store logo and whose team photos are proudly displayed.
Tigani said that winning the Pannell Award "is just thrilling. We're a small store and it means a lot to us to have this national recognition. "
The jurors commended Fairytales Bookstore & More for its comprehensive approach to involving children in reading, from creative play and storytelling to music and visual arts. Tammy Derr, who owns the store with her husband, explained that they hold daily, interactive after-school story times that draw a spectrum of ages. "We read a story and come up with a craft to go along with the book," she said. "We encourage the kids to take whatever they got from the story and create a piece of art."
Fairytales's attention to parents' needs also impressed the Pannell Award jurors. The store has a back room that is designated as an "adult resource center," with free coffee, tea, and wi-fi available to parents. "If their children are old enough to be separated from them, parents can take a bit of a break and relax in this room," said Derr.
Derr, who attended this year's BEA for the first time, launched her business almost three years ago. She said that winning the Pannell "is a wonderful validation of all the hard work we've put into our store. It seems that my husband and I have never done anything the easy way. We opened the store during the worst recession in 40 years, and at a time when the book industry was going through some big challenges. But I believe if you're creative and are a book lover, you'll find ways to get people interested in what you're doing."