How Independent Children’s Bookshops Have Thrived During COVID-19
By Michaela O’Callaghan and Laura Jones
Over the past year, children’s booksellers have displayed creativity and innovation, remaining focused at all times on connecting with their community of book-lovers. Let us take a look at a few independent children’s bookshops that have been smashing it throughout the pandemic.
Tales on Moon Lane
Tales on Moon Lane absolutely dominated the Nibbies this year, winning both the Children’s Bookseller of the Year and Book Retailer of the Year awards. In the latter, this small independent beat retailers such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s! Their YouTube channel, Moon Lane TV, has been a fierce success, running storytelling sessions and several high-profile author events. They also went the extra mile by offering Zoom-based shopping for customers. Tales on Moon Lane has a lot to offer with three bookshops, an education business and a community interest company. You can find out more here.
Chicken and Frog
Based in Essex, Chicken and Frog is a delightful children’s bookstore that has worked collectively with a range of other businesses over the last twelve months. Natasha Radford, co-owner of Chicken and Frog says, “during lockdown we have reached out to the community, with online events for readers of all ages. Authors and illustrators joined us, as well as storytellers and even a yoga instructor! We also worked closely with other independent businesses and a local theatre, to provide in-person events last summer, when we could meet outside. It's been a rollercoaster of a year, but one that we have thrived in.”
You can find out more about Chicken and Frog on their website.
The Book Nook
Based in Hove, the Book Nook is popular with has a true passion for supporting their community of young book lovers and this did not dwindled in the last year. We particularly love their digital storytime offerings and Comics Club online event, the perfect genre for engaging reluctant readers!nt you visit their website that they are on a mission to connect children with books.d The Book Nook regularly hosts a plethora of events, bringing books to life and uniting young readers with their favourite authors and illustrators. Even during the difficulty of a pandemic, they hosted best-selling author, Onjali Q. Raúf. Everything about this phenomenal independent is aimed at bringing books into the lives of children, with an extensive range of signed books, gifts, a child-friendly Little Nook café and partnership with The Brighton Festival.
The Alligator’s Mouth
Surrey-based bookshop, The Alligator’s Mouth, has a true passion for supporting their community of young book-lovers and has not dwindled in the last year. We particularly love their digital storytime offerings and Comics Club online event, the perfect genre for engaging reluctant readers!
Margaret, co-owner of The Alligator’s Mouth, discusses how they handled the pandemic, “during lockdown we offered local home delivery on foot and bike, online consultations, storytimes and continued to provide books for schools. We also successfully promoted and enhanced our subscription offer and we'll continue doing all these things. It's been tough, but we really feel that our ability to maintain the service we provide has embedded us even more firmly in the community. We've been profoundly moved by this, as the support and love of our customers has kept us grounded and focused. The pandemic has shown that books are essential to our wellbeing – this is especially so for children.”
Wonderland Bookshop (The Barrister in Wonderland)
After reopening in November 2019, this bookshop in North Nottinghamshire has proved itself as a shop to watch! They set up the #PayItForward initiative which began in March 2020, after a generous customer donated money to people in need. This spiralled into a beautifully uplifting scheme, in which individuals within the community were sent a book from donated funds. The success of this project meant that they could donate several books to Bassetlaw Foodbank. You can find out more about this lovely bookshop here.
These spotlighted bookshops are just some of the independent businesses doing amazing things in tumultuous times. The Seven Stories bookshop, part of the National Centre for Children’s Books, has collaborated with the National Centre for Children’s Books on large online children’s events. Meanwhile, Bags of Books in Lewes, East Sussex, had a new owner who moved in March 2020. Rachel revitalised the layout of the shop, alongside successfully managing a new role during a pandemic. Many independent general bookshops have also supported children’s reading with excellent online events such as The Edinburgh Bookshop, who combined three shops together for an events programme. Meanwhile, Far From The Madding Crowd curated a home learning zone to support children.
As a team, we would like to say a big thank you to each and every bookshop for enriching children’s lives with great literature! A lot of children’s bookshops added to their offerings with an online service through Bookshop.org. Please show your support by buying a book through one of their storefronts.