Indy Spotlight: Children’s Book World,Haverford PA
It’s always a pleasure to learn more about a thriving children’s bookstore, and today we’re talking with Hannah Schwarz of Children’s Book World in Haverford, Pennsylvania (www.childrensbookworld.net).
Sue Cowing for Mixed-Up Files: Let’s start right off with something amazing I read in a review of the store — that your booksellers are required to read every book that comes into Children’s Book World! True? That must say a lot about what your shop and your staff are all about.
Hannah Schwartz: We do have an amazing staff and they do read a ton. When we used to get a lot of F&G’s we all read them all. But now publishers don’t send as many, so we cannot read every book before it comes in. We don’t “require” our employees to read every book in the entire store but we do collectively cover many, many of the books. I would say that we strive to read every piece of fiction in the store and as much nonfiction as we can. Even for the biggest book readers there are only so many hours in the day! We do believe, however, that in order to fulfill the needs of our readers – young and old – we need to know what’s in the books – so we keep on reading.
MUF:Your shop has obviously weathered the recession and all the changes in the book industry and is going strong. What do you think is the secret to survival for an independent bookstore.
Hannah: SERVICE! Knowing our books, knowing our customers and making the perfect match is how we survive and thrive.
MUF: Suppose a ten-or eleven-year-old comes into your shop and asks you to help him find a good book. What happens next?
Hannah: We ask about A) interests (sports, fantasy, etc.) B) age/grade levels C) any favorite books they’ve read. Then we ask him or her to look over a few choices and give us feedback and we go from there – either suggesting others or selling the ones already chosen.
MUF: What are a few of your own favorite middle-grade titles, fiction or non-fiction?
Hannah:Wonder, Wonderstruck, Penderwicks (series), 7 Professors of the Far North, Sound Bender, Tangle ofKnots, Steel Trapp, Black Duck, Pizza the Size of the Sun, Goose Girl, Crash, Who is…/Who Was… (series of biographies), and Eyewitness Books.
MUF: Is yours a nooks-and-crannies store? Do people curl up and spend time reading there?
Hannah: Yes, especially on our “stage” area. We took a lot of care when planning the store to make it a comfortable and inviting space for people to browse, read and discuss. We want our customers to feel like part of a book community and share their love of literature with one another.
MUF: You have a good number of autographed children’s books at Children’s Book World. Does that include some by middle-graders’ favorite authors?
Hannah: Yes, we certainly do. We ask all of the authors who appear at our events to sign their books for stock. Some books we have recently added are by Brandon Sanderson, Jessica Day George, Jacqueline Davis, Lauren Myracle, Leslie Margolis, and Sarah Mlynowski.
Middle-Grade Mania with Joe Schreiber, Linda Urban, & Jacqueline Davies
MUF: You hold a number of author appearances and other events each month, both on site and out in the community. What have been some of your favorites? What’s coming up in June?
Hannah: I think our favorite types of events are when we have the opportunity to gather a bunch of authors and illustrators together to meet each other and our community. It is wonderful to see, for example, an author who admired another author meet for the first time in our store. We also enjoy bringing in first time authors and introducing them to the community as well as big draws such as J.K. Rowling who created lines around the corner and down the street. For our middle-grade customers we had a fun event recently called “Middle Grade Mania” where we brought together 4 middle-grade authors to serve on a few panels at two local schools and our store.
Erin Hunter (Gillian Philip), author of THE EMPTY CITY, Survivor Series
This June we are slated to have:
–Rachel Rene Russell author of the popular Dork Diaries will be in-store for a discussion and signing of her newest book in the series, Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker!
–Summer Reading Club – June-August This is a yearly program we run designed to give our customers a chance to read pre-published books and review them. At the end of the summer for each book reviewed, they are rewarded with credit to use for the purchase of books in the store.
–Also in June we will host picture book author Jen Sattler and YA author David Levithan.
MUF:If a family from out of town made a day-trip to Children’s Book World, would there be family friendly places nearby to get a snack or meal after book browsing? And if they could stay a little longer, are there other special places or activities in Haverford that families would enjoy?
Hannah: We have lot of places in walking distance or nearby for families to explore. For starters we are across the street from Haverford College which is a beautiful campus with a duck pond, walking trails, trees to climb and fields for playing. We also have a number of food options including a family friendly bagel shop and a soup, salad and sandwich place. We are also halfway between Ardmore, a suburban shopping mecca and Bryn Mawr which has a beautiful newly renovated library and independent shops lining the street, like the toy store Puns. Plus, Haverford is a suburb of Philadelphia which is chock full of amazing historical sights such as the Liberty Bell, the Constitution Center and Independence Hall as well as children’s museums such as the Please Touch Museum and the Franklin Institute.
MUF: Thank you, Hannah , for making time in your busy day to respond to these questions!
Readers, have you been to Children’s Book World, or would you like to visit? If so please let us know in a comment. And, wherever you are, do plan to visit a children’s bookstore near you this summer. Each one is a unique experience.
Sue Cowing lives in Honolulu and has to travel 2,000 miles to the nearest children’s bookstore! She is the author of the puppet-and-boy novel, You Will Call Me Drog (Carolrhoda Books, 2011; Usborne UK, 2012).
From the Mixed-Up Files is the group blog of middle-grade authors celebrating books for middle-grade readers. For anyone with a passion for children’s literature—teachers, librarians, parents, kids, writers, industry professionals— we offer regularly updated book lists organized by unique categories, author interviews, market news, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a children's book from writing to publishing to promoting.