The second annual national TAKE  YOUR CHILD TO A BOOKSTORE DAY was celebrated on  Saturday,  December 3.  TYCTBD was founded in 2010 by author Jenny Milchman.  Jenny is an active promoter and, in fact, went on a cross-country “vacation” tour across the USA this past summer, calling on bookstores all the way from her home in New Jersey to Portland, Oregon to promote the special day.

The idea caught my attention from the beginning and, this year, I contacted bookstores in my area of Arkansas about taking part. Four independent booksellers ended up joining with enthusiasm, bringing in children’s authors, holding special events like in-store  scavenger hunts,  and  story time.

Since the stores are in four different towns, I could only be at one. I presented the TAKE YOUR CHILD TO A BOOKSTORE DAY program for Trolley Line Books in Rogers, AR.

On that day I was afraid few would come since it had been raining, the weather was cold,  and Christmas parades were scheduled in several towns.

Though Trolley line is not a large store, the owner had set up space in a comfortably furnished back room and provided snacks and juice.  The program was scheduled for 10:00, and until almost ten we had one active girl and her grandmother.  I was talking to Chloe (the child) when a bustle from the front of the store interrupted us, and I looked out to see a crowd of people, children with moms and grandmoms flowing toward us.

We ended up with a good-sized group of children ranging in age from five to thirteen, and I wondered how children with such a wide spread of ages would respond to my program.  I soldiered ahead, and began by reading one of my published short stories suitable for children. The two youngest in the group were bored, I think, but their grandmother stayed with them in the room and managed to offer a bit of side entertainment.   From the reading, I moved on to telling a bit of child-oriented information about writing a mystery story. All the older children understood about having a main character, a “mess up” problem for them to solve, and an interesting place for the mess up to happen. I also talked about writing an opening sentence that invites a reader to continue with the story.   After I shared a few more child-size examples,  everyone was given a booklet with blank pages, a clip board, and a pencil.  Most of the children spent a short time thinking, then all but the youngest began to write.  (Grandmother got the two young-uns to do their story by drawing pictures. Bless her!)

There were questions, plus a bit of conversation and discussion during the writing time, but we were all engaged for maybe twenty minutes while a newspaper photographer moved around taking pictures. (He showed up early, and stayed for the entire program.  Distracting, but nice to be noticed–right?)

Now, I’d like to share with you the charming story written by one of the participants. She honored me by giving me her completed story at the end of the program.  (Side note:  The emphasis in many schools today is not necessarily on spelling or punctuation.  That isn’t this child’s fault. Her creativity is awesome, and her opening sentence definitely a hook.  Watch for her touches of humor!)

I present here  Christina Marshall’s story, THE DRAGON  (Written in twenty minutes with no chance for the author to go back and  edit.  Could the average  adult first draft  short-time writer do much better?)


The Dragon is gone agian.

My Dragon keep’s geting away. Well I should tell yoo who my Dragon is he is a Dragon and his name is Bod. Bod all was gets away then come’s back for food. I try to keep him here but he keeps geting out and he needs to stay here because he Is not allow to be here because he’s a Dragon and the town is not a big fan of him.

I try to keep him here in my back yard because they try to take him away but I want to keep him. He is a baby a big baby. Here he come’s flying over my house and into my back yard.

He’s a good Dragon but people don’t know him so they are scard of him so when they see him they tell on him and the people will try to kill him but he know’s I willn’t hert him so he come’s to me when he is in troble. When he stays here I feed and give him a bath and keep him warm.

I have been trying to build a big back yard an inside yard well right now I have to feed him and he is geting mad at me because I have not got him something to eat.

By Christina Marshall, 6th grade, White Rock
Congratulations, Christina!  And may you become a best-selling author some day.


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  1. jennymilch Says:

    Radine, what an utterly fantastic event you put together! I wish my kids could’ve taken part. Christina’s story is terrific–humorful and poignant at the same time. You’re right–great first line. “My dragon keeps getting away.” My dream (as you know) is for this Day to become so established a part of kids’ lives that they look forward to it every year, and ask to go on other days besides. You are helping that dream come to be, and I am so glad to be a part of it with you.

  2. Cat Rahmeier Says:

    Congratulations, Christina! Nice story. I hope you get some food in Bod’s bowl before he gets too fidgety and flies off to eat in a neighbor’s yard.

  3. radine Says:

    Jenny, I am already looking forward to next year!

  4. Erin Says:

    Great job Christina! I was very glad that you were able to join us at the Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day (even if you are not my child or granchild). So, have you finished building the back yard to accomodate Bod? And by the way, what do you feed a flying dragon anyway? I hope there is more to come of this story!

  5. radine Says:

    I’m another one who would like to know what happens next in Bod’s life.

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