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« Mini-interview with Kira Larson, Children's Dept Head and Book Buyer at Scuppernong Books | Main | Toronto Book Launch for WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? and an interview with Anjula Gogia of Another Story Bookshop »

Mini-interview with Mary Brown, owner of indie bookstore Books, Bytes & Beyond

Today's post is part of my WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? book tour series, where I highlight some of the places I'll be visiting or working with to visit local schools.

Mary Brown, owner of Books, Bytes & BeyondMary Brown is the owner of Books, Bytes & Beyond, children's specialty book business located in Glen Rock, New Jersey, right outside of New York City.  You can find out more info about Books, Bytes & Beyond on their website, on Facebook and on Twitter.

I asked Mary what made her bookstore special. Mary's answer:

"Books, Bytes & Beyond opened as a children's only specialty retail bookstore over 20 years ago. Over the years, we have established a reputation for helping educators and parents find the right book to help children develop a love of reading that can last a lifetime.

"We also began servicing schools by developing guided reading leveled libraries for classroom use and providing trade books for curriculum needs. As the school, library, and author events business became more important to our bookstore model, it was decided in 2013 that our customers could be better served by concentrating our efforts almost exclusively on these markets.

"With our focus on the personalized approach to educating children, Books, Bytes & Beyond's goal is to put the right book into the hands of each child to encourage excitement about both reading and learning. I am aided in my new bookstore model by Trish Bernabeo, who many people in the industry know, as she has worked with me for almost 20 years, acting as Store Manager and, more recently, as Publicity and Events Coordinator:

Trish Bernabeo, Publicity/Author Events Coordinator at Books, Bytes & Beyond

"I also have to say that I am so proud of the industry success of two old high school employees: my son, Jordan Brown, is an Executive Editor at Harper Collins Children's Books, and Cristin Stickles is the children's buyer at McNally Jackson."

Q. If you had to pick one piece of advice for parents who are trying to get their children to read more, what would it be?

Mary's answer:

The best advice I could give a parent is to set the example. Children learn through observation, and having the parents demonstrating the importance of reading in their own lives is critical. And, of course, read aloud to your children on a regular basis.  There is a wonderful poem, entitled The Reading Mother, by Strickland Gillilan, which I've copied here.  It is in the public domain. The last four lines say it all.

"I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea.
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth;
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.

I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness lent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch.
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be --
I had a Mother who read to me."

Don't those last lines almost move you to tears?! Of course, you could paraphrase & substitute "parent" for "mother".

Q. What are you reading these days?

Mary's answer:

Right now, I'm reading a couple of manuscripts for books not scheduled for release until 2016, but some of my favorite novels for 2015 so far are (in no particular order!):

Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby

Listen Slowly, by Thanhha Lai

Lost in the Sun, by Lisa Graff (for which I wrote a review for PW's Galley Talk)

There is just so much great literature out there for children these days, that it is truly hard to list favorites! And I'm not forgetting picture books & graphic novels! Without these, we wouldn't be able to begin that love of reading at such an early age."

Thank you, Mary!

I look forward to working with Trish Bernabeo, the bookstore's Publicity and Author Events Coordinator, to visit schools in the area during my visit. You can find out more info about the rest of my Where Are My Books? book tour here.

A photo of the main entrance of the complex where Books, Bytes & Beyond is located:

Photo below: These holiday deliveries of classroom library books back in December made for a very happy New Year for hundreds of students. :-)


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