Kate DiCamillo and ABA Launch Indies First Storytime Day

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Building on the success of the Indies First movement launched last year by Sherman Alexie, the American Booksellers Association today unveiled plans for Indies First Storytime Day, spearheaded by award-winning author Kate DiCamillo, the Library of Congress’ 2014 –2015 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Indies First Storytime Day will be celebrated at independent bookstores across the country on May 17, 2014, in conjunction with Children’s Book Week, which runs from May 12 –18, and ABA is working with the Children’s Book Council to help facilitate and grow the grassroots movement.

In the spirit of Alexie’s initial call to arms, DiCamillo has penned a letter to fellow authors and illustrators, asking them to volunteer at their favorite bookstore this May 17 in honor of Children’s Book Week.

“We are (with the express permission of Sherman Alexie, mind you) stealing this idea and running with it,” DiCamillo wrote. 

However, this event has a new twist. Instead of handselling books, this time around authors are being asked to read from a children’s book of their choice. “The point is to read aloud, to celebrate stories and to celebrate the indies who work so hard to put our stories in the hands of readers,” said DiCamillo.

The overwhelming response to the inaugural Indies First event left authors and booksellers charged with optimism and excitement, and many participants asked that similar events be held at different times of the year.

“We so enjoyed hosting two authors for Indies First last fall,” said Valerie Koehler, owner of Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Texas. “They had a blast recommending their favorite books both for adults and children. We look forward to finishing Children’s Book Week with a special guest author to read at a Saturday morning storytime. It’s another opportunity to gather friends and fans and turn them into regular customers.”

ABA is providing a number of resources for authors and booksellers who wish to participate; however, Indies First Storytime Day is a grassroots movement so bookstores and authors should contact each other directly to make plans for the day. Once a bookseller has scheduled one or more participating authors, they can complete the Event Detail Form on BookWeb, and the store’s location will automatically appear on IndieBound’s Event Map within a few days of the submission.

Authors who wish to participate but do not have a particular bookstore in mind can sign up via the Volunteer Sign-up page, and their names will appear in an index on BookWeb that bookstores will be able to access in order to make arrangements with the author.

To facilitate planning for the event, ABA has compiled a list of Indies First Event Participation Guidelines, which outlines the ways in which authors and illustrators can support the movement –– year-round and by participating in dedicated Indies First events. Links to all Indies First Storytime Day resources can be found on the ABA Promotions page on BookWeb.

Indies First Storytime Day is open to children’s and adult authors who are willing to read from a children’s book at an indie bookstore of their choice on May 17.