This week’s guest posts are all about developing and using different places for sharing stories. The first is by John and Mary Baker who run a successful independent book shop in Woodley, Reading. Although a relatively small unit in a local precinct, the colourful interior is well designed, with moveable book cases which can be rearranged to accommodate author events for children or adults. They offer a busy programme of book signings, performances and character visits. Their latest project has added yet another dimension to this already vibrant space.
Here’s a good news story for independent bookshops – American author James Patterson has made £250,000 available for projects which will encourage children to visit their local bookshop and to find new books and try new authors. We had always wanted a dedicated area in our shop for children and realised that this was the opportunity to actually do it.
We discussed many ideas before deciding on a very simple project which took its inspiration from the ‘Books about Town’ trails and illustrated book benches which appeared in London in 2014 http://www.booksabouttown.org.uk/ . We decided to have illustrated book benches for our shop and approached local author Cathy MacLennan to see if she would design and illustrate them for us. With Cathy’s help we came up with a more detailed specification for their size and positioning in the shop before approaching local firm, Winson Woodcraft to build two benches, a table and hanging sign.
We decided to call it a ‘Book Garden’ – an ideal place to grow your love of reading – and Cathy used illustrations and themes from two of her picture books Bunny Bunny Catkin and Chicky Chicky Chook Chook. The table is decorated with insects and has finger trails to appeal to the youngest child. Cathy has done murals but never decorated furniture before so the project was a challenge. The end result however has certainly given us the wow factor.
We asked Cathy to open ‘The Book Garden’ and at our grand opening she cut the ribbon and read one of her stories. We also had fun and activities for all the family including live music, face painting, crafts and an appearance from Maisy Mouse. ‘The Book Garden’ has continued to be a popular destination for families. We were lucky to receive a selection of picture books from publishers who were keen to support the project and parents continue to enjoy the area as a comfortable place to read to their children.
For more information about Chapter One book shop have a look at their website http://www.chapteronewoodley.co.uk/
We would love to hear about your local independent book shop(s) and the inviting and engaging spaces they have created to encourage the sharing of stories.
The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups.