Next month, children’s authors and illustrators will visit independent bookstores to share behind-the-scenes looks at their recently published or forthcoming books, as part of the inaugural Inside Story program sponsored by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in partnership with First Book. On November 2 and 3, stores in nine U.S. cities and three Australian cities will host participating SCBWI members. First Book, which provides access to new books for children in need, will donate one book for every book purchased at an Inside Story event.

The number of authors attending Inside Story events will vary from city to city, explained author Lin Oliver, co-founder and executive director of SCBWI. “We have enormous enthusiasm from all our published members,” she said. “The problem is not getting authors to participate, it’s trying to find room for the huge numbers of those who do want to take part.” Among the authors confirmed to attend Inside Story events, in addition to Oliver, are Nikki Grimes, Carrie Arcos, Tao Nyeu, Diane deGroat, Corinne Demas, Chris Grabenstein, Richard Michelson, Aaron Reynolds, and Uma Krishnaswami.

The SCBWI has created a promotional poster for stores, said SCBWI program coordinator Kayla Heinen, who told PW, “We will help provide publicity and volunteers for the events, and bookstores will promote their events in their individual communities.” SCBWI will also provide prizes to encourage attendance at the Inside Story events, including drawings to win a phone call from an author, and one grand-prize drawing, the winner of which will have a character named after him or her in a future installment of Oliver’s Almost Identical series.

Oliver expects that the Inside Story effort will extend its reach in coming years. “This is beginning as a pilot program, and we hope to roll it out internationally next year,” she said. “In 2014, we plan to have Inside Story events in each region where we have an SCBWI chapter. That means 53 regions within the United States and 29 international regions.”

Author and SCBWI member Erica Perl, who is First Book’s v-p of publisher and author relations, welcomed the chance to collaborate with SCBWI on Inside Story and noted that this is not the first joint effort for the two groups. “In August, we partnered to launch Authors and Illustrators in Action, a program that connects schools and community programs serving kids in need with free and low-cost books,” she said. “First Book also donated books in honor of SCBWI’s Golden Kite winners this year and received the SCBWI’s Golden Gratitude Award.”

“When we learned about Inside Story, we thought it was a terrific idea,” Perl added. “This is a nice way to confirm our commitment to and support of independent booksellers. And, as a children’s author and SCBWI member, this particular partnership is a source of great personal as well as professional pride for me.”

Oliver, who calls First Book “our natural partner” in Inside Story, has high hopes for the new program’s wide reach. “It benefits authors and illustrators by giving them promotion within their local communities. It benefits independent bookstores by creating traffic and sales. And it benefits readers by exposing them to good children’s literature.”