I spent last Thursday and Friday in the company of the phenomenon that is Storytellers Inc. A jewel of a bookshop in the genteel town of St Anne’s on Sea – Storytellers Inc is the dynamic production of mother and daughter team, Carolyn and Katie Clapham. I say dynamic, because Storytellers Inc doesn’t just sell children’s books, if it just did that, it might not survive. It runs several book clubs, for children and teenagers and even a Crossover bookclub. This week they’re holding a Christmas party for all their bookclubs, they’re all reading A Christmas Carol followed by an evening of mince pies and music.
This year, they’ve also brought out this fantastic calendar – only £10, with original drawings by top illustrators.
And just recently – Katie has started “Cool books for School” – a small selection of books for different age groups that she takes into schools. Once the children have been introduced to a book, Katie goes in and runs creative writing sessions, encouraging a creative response to the stories, discussing things that have arisen from reading the text – making it all FUN!
I got to visit Storytellers Inc because Katie chose SHRUNK! as one of her “cool books for schools” – Not only did I get to visit the bookshop, Katie and her mum arranged for me to visit five fantastic schools and meet more than 400 children in two days. Katie came too, handling all the book orders, and there were loads. The children all knew about the book – some of them had even read it, they asked good questions, they were interested and interesting, they were excited by my book, by the Story Adventure and by books in general! They were prepared, they were keen, their teachers were keen – they were a gift to a travelling author – mainly thanks to Katie’s enthusiasm.
So what’s in it for Katie and her mum? Apart from their evident love of books, this outreach exercise means that all the children in the area see Storyteller’s Inc as the number one place to buy books AND that they see the whole process of books and reading as FUN!
So Booksellers take note – if you want children to come to you to buy books – you may actually have to go to them first – otherwise it’s just too easy for them to go online and either ignore books altogether or buy them from the invisible monster that is Amazon.
It’s really not surprising that Katie won Young Bookseller of the Year 2012 – There’s a lot to beat for anyone who wants to win it in 2013.