The One-Millionth Storytime

I had originally intended today to gripe gently about a couple of topics.  During my research,on those topics, however, I stumbled across something else — check out Sue Coletta’s excellent blog from last week about “research rabbit holes” to read about how that happens — that I found to be very interesting and incredibly hopeful and which makes, I believe, for a better topic. 

Barnes & Noble (B&N) is celebrating today (September 7) and tomorrow (September 8) c something they are calling “Our One-Millionth Storytime.” I don’t know how they arrived at that number or how close it is to accurate. What I do know is that whenever I have been in a B&N store anywhere I have always peripherally noticed an announcement posted in or near the children’s section about a scheduled storytime. This is going back to 2001 or so, and probably before that. Someone who when they were two or three years old and may have been taken there by their parent for storytime may well be taking their own child there now, braving the gauntlet of books and book-related toys, dolls, stuffed animals and the like, to enjoy the shared experience of hearing a story, of being read to. The good folks at B&N have weathered several wounds over the years, some by circumstances beyond their control (drops in readership) and others by friendly fire (the, uh, Nook). They still, however, present those storytimes, week in and week out. 

That is dedication.  An undertaking of that type involves more than just pulling out a book and reading to a gaggle of children and a place and time certain. B&N has to have someone there who is good with children and who is ready to show up and smile even when they don’t feel like it, someone else to deal with the accidents that little ones have at the drop of a Huggies, and someone else to restore the children’s section to its pristine condition afterward. All of this is predicated on the hope of generating goodwill and planting the seed of love of reading in the minds of those assembled. Talk about your Hail Mary forward pass. They still do it, however, and someone has calculated that they’ve done it around one million times, collectively. Well played. 

I am not sure if every single B&N in the country is participating in this commemoration but if you are lucky enough to have a little person in your life, whether one or more generations down, you might want to consider checking to see if your local store is marking this event and if so taking your little loved one so that they can participate. If your financial circumstances permit you might also consider showing a bit of commercial appreciation to the folks at B&N by purchasing something for yourself or, better yet, your child. I like Kindles — my Fire HD8 is velcroed to my hand — but there are some things, darn it, that you can’t do with an eReader, and a group story session with a bunch of other kids who listen to the words while they hear the sound of pages turning is one of them. 

Thank you, B&N. And thank YOU for stopping by today. 

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About Joe Hartlaub

Joe Hartlaub is an attorney, author, actor and book and music reviewer. Joe is a Fox News contributor on book publishing industry and publishing law and has participated on several panels dealing with book, film, and music business law. He lives with his family in Westerville, Ohio.

16 thoughts on “The One-Millionth Storytime

  1. Neat, Joe. I keep a Nook app on my tablet and, just out of orneriness, will frequently buy books from B&N rather than that other company. I wonder if maybe I’m JSB’s only Nook sales.

  2. First! Thanks, Eric. Re: Nook, my understanding is that there is a huge warehouse where all of the parts to those kiosks which peppered the B&N stores are stored. Can you imagine what a future civilization might think? Anyway, I hope you get to use and enjoy those JSB books and your other purchases for a long time to come.

    • Notion seconded.

      We had a nice, big B&N a five-minute drive from my house. It’s gone now. I do love bookstores, be the stock new or used. And anything that gets kids into physical books I’m for.

      • Jim, we have six in the Columbus metro area and one of their campus bookstore properties. There is simply no way that all of them will survive once the new owner/sheriff rides into town. They’re all great stores, too. Additionally, we have several Half-Price bookstores and some very nice new and used bookstores here as well. Readership may be down in general but it’s similar, I guess, to the criminal justice system: the recidivists — in this case — the repeat readers — keep the lights on. Thanks for all that you do, Jim.

  3. Many are the times I read to my own children when they were little. There aren’t too many things more pleasant than having a little one listening to you read a story with eyes wide open attention, only to fall off, bit by bit, into sweet slumber… Years later, one of those kids loves books, and one does not. But near as I can tell they both love me, so I guess it worked out.
    Take care, Joe, and be well.

    • Thanks for sharing, Ed. Beautifully told. All four of mine still read, as does my granddaughter, distractions such as video games, Netflix, etc. notwithstanding. We do what we can. Be safe, Ed.

  4. Thanks for the post, and the reminder about reading to children (and grandchildren). I won’t be able to visit Barnes and Noble soon, but I have a granddaughter from Florida who is coming to visit next week. I’ll see if she’ll let me read her a story. She’s a character in the second book of my Mad River Magic series (currently being edited). I think I’ll get out the rough draft and read her a chapter.

    I hope you survived your granddaughter’s sleep over and pizza party two weeks ago.

  5. You’re welcome, Steve, and thanks for stopping by. It sounds like your granddaughter is extremely lucky to be your granddaughter, for so many reasons.

    The pizza party turned into a Jimmy Johns party, which was fine. She’ll be here again this weekend. 12 going on 23 is a very interesting age.

    Enjoy your week, Steve.

  6. Unfortunately, the closest B&N is an hour away. Our local library, however, does “Storytime” every Saturday morning. It’s adorable to watch the kiddies huddled in a circle, eyes wide at the storyteller as they lay on their bellies, feet kicked up behind them, chins resting in tiny palms. I’ve been meaning to take my grandchildren one of these weekends. Alas, I haven’t done so yet. Perhaps it’s time to change that. Thanks for the nudge, Joe!

    • You’re welcome, Sue. Thanks for stopping by. Your grandchildren, like Steve’s, are lucky to have an in-house author on call!

  7. Love the post, Joe. I’ve got a 2-yr-old granddaughter who is really into “reading” books now. I and my daughter’s family will need to avail ourselves of these storytimes now that you’ve reminded us that they are there.

  8. Many thanks, Chris. Re: the reminder, credit goes to B&N. I just happened to stumble across it and passed it on. I would guess that your local libraries have them as well. I sound like a broken audiobook (…) but we NEED those young readers. Enjoy!

  9. Thanks for spotlighting Storytime, Joe. After Borders tanked, our town has no major bookstore. But the library hosts a Storytime equivalent every week.

    I just visited a local used bookstore. The owner apologized for the “children’s corner” b/c it consists of a somewhat messy collection of boxes of books sitting on the floor. She said initially she intended to shelve them but discovered kids love to sit on the floor and dig through boxes, looking for treasures to read. How smart of her to figure that out!

    As long as kids are exposed to reading early, there may be hope.

    • What a lovely mess that sounds like, Debbie. A dream come true! Actually, it sounds somewhat like my own collection (accumulation), but don’t tell anyone. Thanks for sharing.

  10. There is almost nothing better you can do for your kids than read to them. I treasured that time with my parents. And I still, to this day, remember my third grade teacher who set aside Friday afternoons to read to us. I think we made it through every book Laura Ingalls Wilders wrote. I love that teacher to this day. Wish I could remember her name.

    • Thank you, Kris. You got that right. I went to Catholic schools in the 1950s and 1960s and in grade school they read to us at every level. Sister Julia, Miss George, Sister Sabina, Miss Delawese, Sister Theresa Mary, Miss D’Luzanski, Mrs. Albera, Sister Maria and Mr. Herrity…this is for you!

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