The Galaxy Bookshop Read-a-Thon: A Resounding Success

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By Sandy Scott, Events Coordinator, The Galaxy Bookshop

Whew! Twenty-four hours of books and sleeplessness is over, marking the end of The Galaxy Bookshop's first Read-a-Thon. We raised more than $500 for Hardwick Head Start, the early education and child services program that we chose as the charity for our Read-a-Thon fundraiser. Our expectations for the number of participants were far surpassed -- 38 readers came through our doors, between Friday and Saturday evening. More than 20 of those people stayed for the entire 24-hour period. Although we didn't get an exact count, our best estimate is that nearly 10,000 pages were read by our Read-a-Thonners!

It was a learning experience for us, especially as we had not planned for the large turnout -- a majority who were in the 12- to 18-year-old category. We now know that next year we'll want more chaperones to help supervise energetic teens. The enthusiasm was infectious, however, and it was impossible not to get caught up in the excitement. Readers spread out on chairs and sleeping bags throughout the store. Many were thrilled to have a chance to talk about their favorite books with fellow readers; Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series was by far the most popular reading choice and sparked numerous discussions. We held only a few scheduled activities throughout the event, but Literary Trivia seemed to be a big hit. Next time, we might try organizing a read-aloud group for the "Twilight" of 2009.

Customers who came into the store during the daytime hours seemed to love the idea of the Read-a-Thon, even as they wove their way around nests of teenage readers, curled in their sleeping bags as they read or snoozed. We received a number of donations right at the register from people who were just finding out about the Read-a-Thon and from some who talked of participating themselves "next year." Guess that means we'd better start planning for Read-a-Thon 2009!

"Great Expectations: A Reading Marathon" is the brainchild of RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which encouraged other indies to develop 24-hour reading marathons to bring attention to reading and independent bookstores, while raising money for local nonprofits and celebrating October as National Reading Group Month. RiverRun held its second annual event from October 10 through October 11.