Bookstores Gear Up for “Give Me Summer! Give Me Books!”

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With summer recess for many students only a month away, ABA members participating in Give Me Summer! Give Me Books! are spreading word of the promotion throughout their communities.

Give Me Summer! Give Me Books! is a national summer reading program for kids –– now in its second year ––  that presents participants with a challenge to read six books during the summer months –– three of which should be on the list of suggested titles and purchased from a local independent bookstore. The program’s goal is to build a strong community of readers by bringing independent bookstores, local schools, and libraries together to encourage kids to read.

Last month’s Children’s Institute included a roundtable discussion about getting the most out of the summer reading program by reaching out to schools, partnering with local businesses, and offering desirable rewards to motivate participants.

Angie Tally of the Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina, said that she will be featuring the promotion’s titles at book fairs at local schools in May and is highlighting them in in-store displays. The store has also been printing the bookmarks found in BookWeb’s Designs and Downloads and is offering prizes, including discount coupons to the bookshop and a local ice cream shop as well as free ARCs, to young customers who read and mark off the titles on the bookmark.

Tally has been sending the bookmarks to local schools to be distributed to students. The school with the greatest percentage of books read and bookmarks returned to the bookstore will win a display of the Who Was series, donated by Penguin Books.

“The [promotion] brings excitement to summer reading,” said Tally. “With so many students required to read books during the school year that fulfill certain criteria, programs like Give Me Summer! Give Me Books! promote reading as fun. The titles on the list were curated by a group of booksellers from across the country to feature interesting, diverse, fun titles of which readers may not be aware…  Programs like GMS! GMB! showcase wonderful, yet potentially overlooked, titles.”

Holly Weinkauf, co-owner of the Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, Minnesota, has also begun distributing information about GMS! GMB! to schools within her community. The bookstore plans to have a visible presence at the summer festival held by the city’s business district each June and will have staff signing kids up to participate in the promotion.

Though the local libraries have many programs related to summer reading, Red Balloon always gets questions from parents asking what the bookstore has to offer. “It seems like parents are looking for more avenues for summer reading,” said Weinkauf. “And independent bookstores should definitely be able to provide that. For us, it helps build excitement and bring people in the door.”

Bookstores are encouraged to use the logos, bookmarks, gift certificates, posters, sortable title list with ISBNs, letter-to-schools template, and updated media kit, all of which can be found in BookWeb’s Designs and Downloads.