I read PW Daily via email each morning and one bright spot amidst grim industry news is Shelftalker, bookseller Alison Morris’s blog about children’s books. Last week starting on December 1, Alison had a running feature in which she asked, “What books should no self-respecting bookstore be without?” Each day she’d mention a different age group and ask her readers to suggest five books that they think a bookstore should carry within that category. The original four groups were YA fiction and nonfiction, middle grade fiction and nonfiction, picture book fiction and nonfiction, and books for babies and toddlers. Then she added adult books so people could weigh in on that as well.
It was generally fun to read the ideas of the 100+ people who responded over the week. Being a nonfiction author, I had a bit of an agenda: I wanted to see how much nonfiction would be mentioned in the mix. Of course, the proportion wasn’t close to I would have liked it to be. In fact if our own Anna Lewis hadn’t contributed her nonfiction ideas, we’d be in real trouble. (As an aside, not too many people wrote in for the adult day. But 6 out of the 7 who suggested adult books had at least one nonfiction book in their list—very different than for the younger age categories.)
I’m not really whining here. I’m just interested in this idea. Some of the children’s nonfiction considered a “must have” for any bookstore included: We are the Ship, Becoming Billie Holiday, Our Eleanor, Hole in my Life, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Way Things Work, The Cartoon History of the Universe, Frozen Man, What It Feels like to be a Building, work by Tana Hoban, Frida, books by Denise Fleming, How Bright is Your Brain?, Kid Chat Gone Wild, Her Story: A Timeline of the Women who Changed America, Global Babies, and Baby Talk.
I happened to be talking to Terri Schmitz, the owner of Children’s Bookshop in Brookline MA, the other day. Although I didn’t ask her the “must have” question, I know she loves Oh Rats! The Story of Rats and People and Phineas Gage: A Gruesome by True Story About Brain Science among so many others.
What about all of you? How do you think we should fill the kids nonfiction shelves of our imaginary book store?