For Indies First Storytime Day, which will be celebrated on May 17 in bookstores across the country, New York City’s McNally Jackson will host several middle grade authors who will perform a dramatic reading of the beloved Norton Juster title The Phantom Tollbooth (Knopf Books for Young Readers).
Upon learning about Indies First Storytime Day, author Kate Milford, who also works as a bookseller at McNally Jackson, knew she wanted to celebrate. Milford had recently been reading The Phantom Tollbooth aloud to her newborn son and recognized the book’s possibilities.
“We got to a couple of chapters that were really heavy on dialogue,” she said. “And I realized those chapters would be a breeze to adapt for a reading.” Thus, The Phantom Tollbooth Reader’s Theater was born.
The event will consist of a dramatic reading of the book performed by middle grade authors, followed by a panel discussion. Since the book is a classic, and nostalgic for many, it wasn’t difficult for the store to recruit other authors, said Milford. In addition to Milford, participating authors include Adam Gidwitz, Michael Northrop, Natalie Standiford, Matthew Cody, Jeffrey Salane, Courtney Sheinmel, and Kekla Magoon.
“I’m excited for the chance to celebrate a book I love along with people whose books I love, too, and I’m excited for the chance to celebrate my favorite bookstore as a place where events like this can happen,” said Milford.
“Events like this call attention to the community element of independent bookstores, and in particular to the fact that authors are part of that community, too,” she added. “Events like this give us ways to stand up and cheer for our bookstores, to do something concrete to show our support.”
The store has also confirmed that Barbara Marcus, president of Random House Children’s Books, will be the reading’s narrator and the moderator of the discussion panel.
“Random House has been incredibly supportive of our efforts for Storytime Day,” said McNally Jackson children’s buyer Cristin Stickles. “I’m beyond thrilled that [Marcus] is up for participating in the event.” The store plans to promote the event heavily via social media channels, including Twitter and McNally Kids Tumblr, as well as on its website and in its newsletter.
Even though middle grade events don’t typically draw large crowds at the store, “I was immediately on board with Kate’s idea and I know it’ll be a big success for us,” said Cristin, adding that the store is already thinking of replicating the event in the fall with a different title and a new group of authors.
If your store is putting together a unique event for Indies First Storytime Day, please let us know.