Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books

Interview with Sharon Hearn of Children’s Book World in LA

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What makes your bookstore different and special?

The two factor’s that contribute to Children Book World’s success are our expansive, multicultural, selection of titles and our superior staff that does an excellent job of helping customers choose just the right book for each child and assisting teachers with their classroom needs.

With a selection of over 80,000 titles, and a staff that tries to read as many of those titles as possible, Children’s Book World’s booksellers are dedicated to getting the right books into the hands of the right kids, whether by talking to children directly, or talking to their teachers, librarians, parents, and other concerned adults.

We carry everything from books for newborns to books for teenagers. We carry not only the best of the new books, but an in-depth selection of  backlist (previously published) titles, including contemporary and traditional classics and old favorites, in addition to a large selection of nonfiction and books for life’s transitions and challenges (birth of a sibling, death, moving, etc.).  At Children’s Book World, in addition to fiction and picture books, you’ll find sections devoted to religion, history, geography, poetry, sports, architecture, Shakespeare, mythology, fairy tales and world folklore, transportation, science, dance, music, art appreciation, feelings, manners, parenting, and much, much more.

How was your bookstore started, and with what goals?

Children’s Book World has been working to inspire children’s love of reading for nearly 27 years, opening October 6, 1986.  I was a reading teacher for nearly three years, and had the dream of opening a bookshop that would be a  treasure trove of children’s books.  While saving money to open the bookshop, I ran a school book fair company out of my parents’ garage (I was in an apartment at the time) for 7 years, bringing a mobile bookshop of children’s books to schools for up to a week at a time, for fund raising events.  I then opened Chidlren’s Book World in 1986 and continued to also offer school book fairs for another 7 years, until I sold the book fair division to concentrate fully on the shop.

With our diverse, abundant stock and its library-inspired organization, aided by the assistance of our highly knowledgable booksellers, we continue to strive to be an educational and community resource.

We have a commitment to reaching out to children all across the city, not just our core customers of families who can afford to buy books for the children in their life. Through our non-profit organization Children’s Book Recycling Program, founded in 1997, we collect “gently used” book donations, which we organize by age and subject in a storage facility behind the bookshop. Staff from literacy programs, low income schools, and non-profit organizations working with underserved kids can arrange to come in to gather the books their children need from our selection. Recipients are invited to come back every 6 months to replenish their collections. We have provided recycled books to over 200 under-served schools and organizations.

In conjunction with Dav Pilkey’s visit to Children’s Book World this past fall, we held a drive for fans to donate new books for distribution to foster children through the Edelman’s Children’s Court Shelter Care Program. To encourage donations, for each donation a raffle ticket was given for a chance to win a signed Captain Underpants cape, t-shirt, or doll. We were elated that 152 new books were collected!

Do you cater to certain types of readers?

We strive to have books for all readers, from the reluctant and those with learning disabilities to the highly enthusiastic, advanced readers. When a child comes in and says “I don’t” like to reader, we strive to find the books that will introduce her/him to the joys of reading. When a child comes in and says “I really like Rick Riordan and I’ve read all his books”, we can suggest new books that we think will match up with the child’s tastes, and hopefully also introduce new authors and genres.

How do you engage in an ongoing way with your readers?

We host many events each season with beloved children’s book authors, both at our store and at local school and library auditoriums, drawing fans from all over Los Angeles County and beyond. We’ve hosted events with Jeff Kinney, Brian Selznick, Mary Pope Osborne, Lois Lowry, J.K. Rowling, Rick Riordan, John Green, Ray Bradbury, Julie Andrews, Judy Blume, Dave Pilkey, Buzz Aldrin, Jamie Lee Curtis, and many, many more

We strive to involve as many children as possible and not limit attendance to children who can buy books. Children’s Book World has donated classroom sets of books to students from low income inter-city schools attending author visits with Buzz Aldrin, Mary Pope Osborne, David Shannon, and Antoinette Portis, so each child could go home with their own autographed book.

What are some of your upcoming events?

We are still confirming our fall events and expect to have about a dozen, but so far we have scheduled events with Phil and Erin Stead, David Shannon, Barney Saltzberg, Brandon Mull, and Elisa Kleven. Every Saturday morning throughout the year, we host storytellers, author readings, musical performers and more entertainment for kids and families.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your book store?

We greatly appreciate the support we’ve received from our customers! We are at 10580 ½ West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA or online at http://www.childrensbookworld.com.

This interview is also posted at the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.

Author: Henry Herz

Children's book author

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