Monday, June 7, 2010

This is why I love being a bookseller!

Last week, Kate DiCamillo was awarded the "Most Engaging Author" by Independent booksellers. She gave a wonderful speech that was a great tribute to booksellers everywhere.

Kate's speech reminded me of why I love helping people find a good book. Putting the perfect book into a reader's hands is second only to having that person come back into the Odyssey and talk about the book you helped them pick out. It is also discovering great authors and sharing them with readers that make this job a treat!

Books do change the way we think and the way we look at the world! Being part of that process is rather great.


Read Kate DiCamillo's acceptance speech below:

Kate's "Most Engaging Author" Acceptance Speech - May 26, 2010

"When I was in second grade, I fell in love with Abraham Lincoln.
The Clermont Elementary School library had a series of books called Notable Young Americans. And in this way, through these books, I met George Washington and Helen Keller, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, Amelia Earhart and Booker T. Washington. I met them and I liked them. But it wasn't until Abraham Lincoln that I fell in love.
Something about his story (the poverty, the death of his mother, his love of words and books) resonated with me, moved me. I came home from school and told my mother everything that I had learned about the young Abraham Lincoln. I told her that I wanted to learn more.
My mother took me to the Cooper Memorial Library in downtown Clermont. They had there many books about Honest Abe, but there was nothing for a reader my age. And so my mother checked out a thick volume on the life of Abraham Lincoln written for adults. The text was impenetrable. After a few pages, I gave up on it and contented myself with looking at photographs of the man, his sad and hopeful face.
That year, for my eighth birthday, my mother gave me a hardcover biography of Lincoln called Meet Abraham Lincoln by Barbara Cary. It was written at my reading level. There were wonderful illustrations, and I was smitten with the man anew.
Where had my mother found that book? At Porter's Stationery and Gifts in Eustis, Florida. Eustis was the next town over from Clermont, thirty miles away. At Porter's, they had looked for a book about Lincoln that was at my reading level and they had special-ordered it for my mother, for me.
Also, they had told my mother that there was another book I might like. It was called The Cricket in Times Square. And so, in addition to a book about a poor, lonely boy who went on to be come president of the United States, I also received the story of a small cricket who loves music, a cricket who sings so beautifully that people stop to listen.
Who was that bookseller who thought, "Here is an almost-eight-year-old girl who loves Abraham Lincoln. What other book will she love? Oh, yes. This book about a cricket."?
There was nothing logical about that decision. It was a leap of faith.
Those two books changed me.
Together, they cemented an idea in my eight-year-old heart. That idea was this: It doesn't matter how small, how lonely, how broken or sad or poor you are. There is a way to make yourself heard. There is a way to sing.
A bookseller put those books into my mother's hands, and my mother put them into mine.
Sometimes we forget that this simple, physical gesture can change lives.
I want to remind you that it does.
I want to thank you because it did."

- Kate DiCamillo
May 26, 2010


Jeannine Atkins said...

Thank you for posting this touching speech. And, as she says, thank you for putting books into hands and changing lives. Your work is so appreciated!

The Odyssey Bookshop said...

Thanks for your kind words, Jeannine!

a. e. swift said...

I so enjoyed reading Kate DiCamillo's speech. What a beautiful simple truth she highlights... you all at The Odyssey, and at other independent bookstores, really do make a difference. And it's fascinating to know what book started Kate DiCamillo along the road to writing so many incredible stories herself. The Cricket in Times Square... wow!