“We hear all these stories about kids aren’t reading and people don’t care. They do care,” Sara Hines, co-owner of Eight Cousins bookstore in Falmouth, Mass., told PW. She’s learned just how much, ever since the Cape Cod town’s Board of Selectmen voted 2-2 on April 11 to turn down her request for the Scholastic Summer Reading Road Trip Bus to park in front of the bookstore on July 5 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The board’s concern was that the bus would take away five valuable parking spaces at the height of tourist season. They also worried about the safety of a lot of children on Main Street during a high-traffic day.
Hines, who had previously presented the request to the town’s events committee, which had reservations about the date but not about the event, understood the selectmen’s parking concerns. Her store, like other local businesses, is dependent on summer tourism to boost sales.
But it turns out that a number of local residents disagreed. Last week, one of them posted a petition on Change.org, calling on the selectmen to reconsider Hines’s request. “An event of this notoriety would benefit both the children of this community, but also the small businesses,” the petition said, suggesting that those who want to support a small business that supports the community and kids should ask the selectmen to reconsider. To date the petition has received 638 votes.
Since the petition drive began, Hines said the store has been “overwhelmed” with support. “We are absolutely loving the enthusiasm that the community is expressing for books and reading. The petition comments focus on Falmouth kids, books, reading, education, and literacy, which is what we focus on every day,” she said. Among the comments she has received are: “reading over parking,” “literacy for our kids,” and “our kids matter more than tourists.”
Some have offered support in other ways. A local church contacted Hines to say that the bus could park in its lot.
In its April e-newsletter and on its website, the bookstore announced that it will move forward with a literacy celebration on July 5, whatever the Board of Selectmen decides. Falmouth Loves Reading, which is still in the planning stages, will include events for both children and adults to discover and rediscover great books.
As for Scholastic, it has held the Falmouth tour date while the community makes a final decision. A new vote, according to the local newspaper to reconsider the matter will take place on May 9. If the selectmen agree, the bookstore will make a new presentation about their plans for July 5.