Education Opinion

Book-a-Day Challenge: Weeks Three and Four

By Donalyn Miller — July 02, 2010 5 min read
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Summertime and the livin’ is easy. I love beginning my mornings with a good book or two and easing into my day. I read 24 books during weeks 3 and 4 of my Book-a-Day Challenge. You may notice that my reading has slowed down a bit from previous weeks. In addition to reading piles of books this summer, I am also writing one. Look for my new book, Forever Readers--co-authored with my friend, Susie Kelley-- early next summer. Ironic, that writing a book about fostering lifelong reading habits cuts into my own reading time, but I am enjoying the process of creating another book.

While writing Forever Readers, I often reflect on the people who influenced my reading habits. Almost every adult reader I know can point to one special person who led them to discover the joy of reading. My mom taught me to read before I started school and encouraged me to visit the library. My step-dad took me--on almost a weekly basis--to the used bookstore in our neighborhood. I remember wandering the shelves for hours with him on Saturday afternoons. The store owner grew to know our preferences in books and often set aside the latest Louis L’Amour book for Dad and books about dogs and horses for me. I have forgotten the owner’s name, but I will always remember that he introduced me to James Herriot’s memoirs about his life as an English country vet.

My dad is gone. The store is gone, too. But those bookstore visits remain a permanent part of my reading story. Like most independent bookstores, our little used bookstore on the corner closed--a victim of harsh economic times and the juggernaut of online bookstore companies and large chains. I buy most of my books online now. It’s convenient and cheap. I like the almost instant gratification of pushing a button and magically receiving my book in two days. The rumble of the UPS truck sparks joy in my reading heart. I still love those local bookstores, though. When my husband and I traveled to Portland last year, we squeezed a trip to Powell’s, the largest independent bookstore in the world, onto our crowded itinerary. We spend lazy afternoons at Half-Price Books, a used bookstore down the road. And I buy new books for my classroom from The Book Carriage, an independent bookstore and coffeeshop near my school. The big chains cannot duplicate the personalized attention and inviting atmosphere of an indie bookstore, and we can do a lot to preserve the diversity and economic health of our local communities by patronizing local businesses like our indie bookstores.

Book guru, high school teacher and friend, Paul Hankins (@PaulWHankins) began a grassroots movement on Twitter to show support and raise awareness for indie bookstores, by creating the hashtag, #IKnowMyIndie. Tweet the name of your favorite independent book retailer under this hashtag. In celebration of Independence Day, let your independent bookseller know how much they mean to you!

Talking with many readers, I discovered that many people don’t know where their closest independent bookstore is or how to find one. IndieBound, an organization begun by independent booksellers, works to connect readers, booksellers, publishers, and local business owners. IndieBound, Powell’s, Half-Price Books, and other independent booksellers have Facebook fanpages, too. In addition to local bookstores, you can support other local businesses by participating in the 3/50 Project, a campaign where patrons select three local businesses they would hate to lose and spend $50 at each.Thanks to Teresa Kravtin (@trkravtin) for the information on this project!

On their website, IndieBound lists these benefits of patronizing independently-owned businesses:

Why Shop Indie?

When you shop at an independently owned business, your entire community benefits:

The Economy

■Spend $100 at a local and $68 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43.
■Local businesses create higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.
■More of your taxes are reinvested in your community--where they belong.

The Environment

■Buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint.
■Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money to beautify your community.

The Community

■Local retailers are your friends and neighbors--support them and they’ll support you.
■Local businesses donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains.
■More independents means more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community

In keeping with the spirit of supporting independent bookstores, the booklinks I provide on this blog will now route you to IndieBound. Bloggers, book reviewers, and authors can show their support for indies by doing the same. (IndieBound does have an affiliate program if you desire this feature, but I am not using it here.)

I hope you’re enjoying your reading summer. Why isn’t my to-read pile shrinking? Here are my recent reads. Starred entries indicate my particular favorites:

Picture Books

**The Bearskinner by Laura Amy Schlitz.

Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t) by Barbara Bottner.

My Best Friend Is As Sharp As a Pencil by Hanoch Piven.

Turtle Splash! Countdown At the Pond by Cathryn Falwell.

Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! by April Pulley Sayre.

Middle-Grade Fiction

The Boy Who Climbed Into the Moon by David Almond

**Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

**Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (reread).

Home and Other Big, Fat Lies by Jill Wolfson.

I,Q: Independence Hall by Roland Smith (reread).

The Magician by Michael Scott.

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine.

**The Sorceress by Michael Scott.

SPHDZ (Spacehead series #1) by Jon Scieszka.

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm.

**The Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt.

Middle-Grade Poetry

City Kids: Street and Skyscraper Rhymes by X.J. Kennedy

Middle-Grade Nonfiction

**Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone.

Young Adult Fiction

A Kiss In Time by Alex Flinn.

Sea by Heidi Kling.

Graphic Novels

Point Blank: The Graphic Novel by Anthony Horowitz and Antony Johnston

**Robot Dreams by Sara Varon

Professional Books

**Adventures in Graphica: Using Comics and Graphic Novels to Teach Comprehension 3-6 by Terry Thompson.

**Writing About Reading: From Book Talk to Literary Essay 3-8 by Janet Angelillo.

The opinions expressed in The Book Whisperer are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.