WNBA Announces Children’s Bookseller Award Winners
The Women’s National Book Association is proud to announce the winners of this year’s Lucile Micheels Pannell Award. This year’s Award for a general bookstore goes to U Conn Co-op in Storrs, Connecticut. The winner in the children’s specialty category is Hicklebee’s Children’s Books in San Jose, California. The Awards will be presented at BookExpo America in Chicago at the Children’s Book and Author Breakfast sponsored by the American Booksellers Association (ABA)-Children’s Book Council (CBC) Joint Committee, the Association of Booksellers for Children (ABC) and BookExpo America on Friday, June 4. Each winner will receive a check for $1000 and a framed piece of original art created by a children’s book illustrator. This year’s art was contributed by artists Denise Fleming and Mo Willems.
The Pannell Award was created in 1983 to honor Ms. Pannell, a model bookwoman and children’s bookseller. The Award recognizes retail bookstores who excel at creatively bringing books and children together and inspiring children’s interest in books and reading.
“The entries from our nominees this year were so inspiring. These stores are really on the right track, not only in terms of helping young readers develop a passion for books, but also in terms of running smart, responsive businesses. The winners this year demonstrated an extraordinary desire and ability engage young readers and energize their growing love of books while simultaneously reaching out to the entire children’s book buying market. From expectant parents to budding readers, elusive teens, proud grand-parents and those adults who just like to read children’s literature, Hicklebee’s and U Conn Co-op do an amazing job serving children and the adults who buy books for them,” says Eileen Hanning, WNBA’s Pannell Committee Chair.
After six weeks of deliberation, the jury of five book industry professionals selected U Conn Co-op and Hicklebee’s based on their creativity, responsiveness to community needs, passion, and understanding of children’s books and young readers.
One juror’s comment sums up the impression Hicklebee’s made: “How can you beat this store? It is a truly amazing example of energetic, pro active and involved bookselling with a tremendous focus and understanding of the children’s book marketplace.” The jury was especially impressed with Hicklebee’s efforts to reach the young reader from before birth through their teen years. “Their baby registry program,” says another juror, “is an excellent way to get expectant parents to visit a children’s book store and see that it’s never too early for books to be part of a child’s life.” Their innovative press conference format for Paul Fleischman’s book, Dateline Troy, resulted in standing-room only turnout of elusive YA readers. The Hicklebee’s Book of the Year Award showcases their staff’s 200 years of combined children’s book selling experience and makes their favorite books bestsellers. They have excellent models for community outreach programs and author and media relations. For example, these two ideas draw patrons specifically to Hicklebee’s: Their Book Bonus Program raises funds for schools to buy books. Each time a patron buys books at Hicklebee’s, the school they designate earns credit toward book purchases. Hicklebee’s collection of author artifacts throughout the store encourages customers to seek out new titles and old favorites, making a trip to their store a trip to a museum too!
U Conn Co-op’s intense focus on children’s books caught the jury by surprise. They didn’t expect a university book store to expend so much effort on children’s programming, hand selling, and community outreach. “They’ve done a great job serving the children of a university community. They have recognized needs and stepped in to fill them,” remarked a juror. Their Saturday morning summer program, regular story times and activities in schools, and their extraordinary relationship with the local reading specialist demonstrate the depth of their commitment to serving the particular needs of their rural community. Their Connecticut Children’s Book Fair, now more than ten years old, draws thousands of attendees and raises money for the Northeast Children’s Literature Collections. For fifteen years they’ve been supporting the Books for Babies program ensuring that every newborn in the local hospital receives a children’s book. Their Storyline allows a child to hear a new story read aloud each week by a bookseller or community member any time, day or night, by calling a dedicated phone line. U Conn Co-op also recognized and responded creatively to the fact that many of their faculty members are grandparents. The faculty comes in to the store regularly, and they like to buy books for their grandchildren, so the store is ready for them with old favorites, books on places to visit with kids, and special notices about new books in stock.
In addition to the award winners, the jury selected the following stores for honorable mention:
Kid’s Center, Tucson, Arizona
Oblong Books and Music, Millerton, New York
This year’s jury consisted of:
Jenny Abrami, Chronicle Books
Steve Geck, Greenwillow Books
Judy Hijikata, The Reading Connection
Angus Killick, Hyperion Books for Children
Susan Raab, Raab Associates
The Women’s National Book Association, founded in 1917, is a national organization of women and men who work with and value books. WNBA, an all-volunteer organization, exists to promote reading and to support the role of women in the community of the book. To learn more about the organization, visit their website at www.wnba-books.org