The Bookloft is one of the lucky Independent Bookstores who have received a grant through James Patterson’s “Saving Bookstores, Saving Lives” grant program. This no-strings attached grant to encourage young people to read has given us the opportunity to imagine new pathways to our front door, where we read, critique and promote the best books for young people.
Our first project to leap off the starting blocks was a monthly story hour at Sunshine Preschool at Berkshire South, just up the street from us. Each visit, Lauren brings a new book and songs and poems to share with the dozen or so 3-5 year olds and we have a grand good time: hauling up the huge carrot we plant when we read about seeds, feeling around in the bag (eyes closed now!) while we imagine being blind like the mice who find the elephants at their waterhole, and dancing like snowflakes as we await winter – it’s coming, it’s coming!
For the second project we enlisted the help of the Fairview Hospital Maternity Unit. Every baby born at the hospital will receive a board book in either English or Spanish, to take home with them as they start their reading life. The titles range from classics such as A You’re Adorable to Mem Fox’s Ten Little Fingers, Ten Little Toes. Each book sports a sticker: For a Lifetime of Reading! The program is off and running with two new babies born the very first day.
Our third program involved a group of eighth graders at Herberg Middle School. Zazu and Lauren visited their after-school program with a set of ten titles ranging from Shusterman’s Full Tilt to Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time to present and then give to the students to keep and read. We tossed the discussion back and forth, so that by the end of the hour when we invited the students to select a book, every set of hands had grabbed a book in under thirty seconds! We left samples of our own “Staff Pick” reviews, encouraged them to let us know what they personally felt about the books, and promised to post their own reviews on our website (so stay tuned for those!!).
Now, this is not the end of the story. We're still working on dreaming up new ways to interact with the young people of the Berkshires to help promote a love of reading forever! If you work for a school, library, or any kind of organization that could benefit from our services, please get in touch with your idea! We've had a great time so far, and are excited to keep putting James Patterson's grant to good use in our community.