At Friday morning’s Children’s Book & Author Breakfast, two bookstores will be honored with a 2019 Women’s National Book Association Pannell Award for excellence in bookselling. The awards are cosponsored by Penguin Books for Young Readers. This year’s award winners, 57th Street Books in Chicago in the General Bookstore category and Hicklebee’s Bookstore in San Jose in the Children’s Specialty Bookstore category, will receive a check for $1,000 and a piece of original artwork donated by Jerry Pinkney and Rosemary Wells.

The five-member juror panel of publishing professionals, who selected the winners from among dozens of nominees in 23 states, said that they were especially impressed with the exceptional passion and creativity of the 57th Street Books staff and called the bookstore “a gift” to its community.

“We are so proud to serve young readers on the South Side of Chicago and are humbled and grateful to receive this recognition on behalf of all booksellers working in underserved communities,” says Jeff Deutsch, director of Seminary Co-op Bookstores, which comprises 57th Street Books and the Seminary Co-op, an academic bookstore.

Seminary Co-op marketing director Alex Houston and 57th Street manager Clancey D’Isa will accept the award. “With the recognition of this award, we look forward to sustaining our world-class children’s department, deepening our children’s programing, and continuing to serve our communities near and far,” says Houston. D’Isa views winning the award as “a testament to our community and their faith in our stores.”

The award jurors described Hicklebee’s Bookstore as “the gold standard for children’s bookselling and an extraordinary place that outdoes itself every year.” The praise is especially gratifying to co-owners and sisters Valerie Lewis and Monica Holmes right now.

“We are celebrating our 40th anniversary this month, and for this award to happen at the same time is fantastic,” says Lewis. “We’ve gone through exciting times when children’s book sales sparked, and we were able to reach out to schools, libraries, local clubs, and community events with our enthusiasm for books. We were challenged when competition from big box stores grew, coupled with Amazon. During those periods, we continued to reach out with new programs and ideas, keeping customer service and a knowledgeable staff a priority. After all this time, this award energizes us and gives us a boost to look for new ways to stimulate reading of actual books in our community.”