As unseemly as it is to fall in love with one of your own store’s programs, I’m afraid that this fate has befallen me regarding our DDG Deserving Reader Award.
The DDG Deserving Reader Award was created when my HarperCollins sales representative, Olga Nolan called to say that she wanted to help celebrate DDG’s 25th anniversary by donating $25. The money, however, had to be spent at the store by a child who loved to read but who had never been in the bookstore before.
This of course required me to think about how to locate children who love to read but had never come here. My idea was to create an award which would allow a deserving young reader the chance to be recognized for his love of reading and top it off by coming to DDG and getting $25 worth of books.
My partnership on this with Cascade Brook School librarian par excellence Amy Graham was a huge success. The young man selected, Mathew Ellsworth, received his award in front of the whole school, which meant the world to him. He visited our store recently and proved himself to be a sensational and voracious reader who was just a delight to talk books with. He turned out to share my love of middle grade fantasy and decided that, rather than pick up series book he was already following at the library, he would try three new series, Bartimaues, Fablehaven and The Blackthrone Key.
One thing that made it even more special was that someone who had heard about the award, and was attending an author event with M.G. Leonard for her book, Beetle Boy, had the author sign the book “To DDG’s Most Deserving Reader” and then mailed me that copy of the book. Someone else sent me a check for $25 to support one more Deserving Reader. A local person who had heard about the award came into the store and handed me a $100 bill for the program.
At this point I was in love with the program, and for many reasons. First, since school is out of session, I had to network some more, this time reaching out to The Franklin County Children’s Task Force. It turned out that they had a new literacy initiative grant for summer programs being held in the local schools, and that our deserving reader program was a perfect way for them to support the children who they observed to be the most passionate and engaged readers.
Secondly, I learned a lot. For example I hadn’t really understood before that for some children the school library is a very special place, their primary place for engaging with books outside the home. The idea of making a physical bridge from the school library into DDG, of extending our school partnerships directly into the lives of these Deserving Readers, was something to warm one’s heart.
What could be better or more worthy of continuing and expanding?