The 2018 round up

As we draw to the end of 2018, ‘best of’ lists are hitting the press and internet. I enjoy browsing these.  Yet, I cannot create a Bookwagon Best Of Books 2018. Bookwagon sells books that have been read, loved and recommended by us, only.

The Bookwagon ‘best of 2018’ has been the live experience. I suspect it’s the same for you. Perhaps you will share some that have impacted most upon you in your Christmas cards.

Bookwagon Christmas
Making it work

Organising visits and book fairs as Bookwagon is markedly different from a school’s responsibility.

School preparation includes practical organisation of schedule, venue, lunch and parking space. There is the need for the school community, from children and parents to administrative staff, to be fully conversant and involved. The school counts down to the live experience.

Bookwagon ensures that a guest writer/ illustrator is accompanied, happy with the schedule and has any individual needs recognised. We secure certain travel arrangements, agreed payment, and organise books to have signed during the visit. We seek publicity to support the school’s promotion of this special event.  Bookwagon has a responsibility to ensure that the guest enjoys the live experience too.

      Festival of Literature
The Live Experience as a Popup

Access, venue, tables, payment methods (including Wifi) are important to us when we popup to sell books. Yet our priority is knowing the readership. To have school librarians or confident reading teachers on site is a bonus every time. To be allowed time to match the right book to the right reader is so welcome.  It enhances the live experience of bookselling.

Bookwagon popup book sale
In the beginning

We’ve been fortunate to sit in on some school visits we’ve arranged. Mr Bookwagon was like a parent-to-be when we secured a school visit with Michaela Morgan on National Poetry Day. He needed to participate in this to understand how the live experience plays out.

Into the light

Since that time we have enjoyed opportunities to support and sometimes share in the live experience.  We are proud to have worked with inspiring creators, including:-  James Campbell, Emma Carroll, Joseph Coelho and Christopher Edge, Stewart Foster, Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler, Sue Hendra and Paul Linnett, Emily Hughes, Tom Palmer, Sibéal Pounder, Jane Ray, Katherine Rundell, S.F. Said, Kate Scott, Dave Shelton, Lisa Thompson and Jason Wallace. What a privilege!

                    Emily Hughes

The community of children’s writers and picture book makers is stellar! There is such vision, generosity, wisdom, effort and creativity. Children realise this in their interaction with such inspiring creators.

Then more

In the infancy of 2019, we have secured writing events with Caryl Hart and Sam Usher.  Once more we will have the joy of working with James Campbell, Emma Carroll, Christopher Edge, Emily Hughes, Jane Ray and Lisa Thompson. Such opportunities fill us with pride and delight.

The Bookwagon speaker

As Bookwagon has grown, my knowledge and experience of children’s literature have been sought  I spoke to teachers in SW London about how to engage children with picture books. In the New Year, two engagements arranged through the superb Reading Rocks, focus upon storytelling and picture book reading.

Sharing books with readers
The Bookwagon judge

I participated in the live experience in a different way, recently, as a judge in Word of Mouth. Ingrid Seifert, Wandsworth Primary English Consultant, created Word of Mouth to coincide with the introduction of the revised English curriculum. She recognised the opportunity for children and teachers to experience poetry recital and performance. During a special day held at Wandsworth Town Hall, schools across the borough are invited to perform poetry of their choice.

As a guest judge, I appreciate the literacy, enquiry, and opportunity of this outstanding innovation.

Word of Mouth Wandsworth Town Hall
The audience

We relish opportunities to be part of an audience with writers. Listening to Benjamin Zephaniah share how his early life shaped his writing moved us . I was almost breathless with joy when part of the live experience of the UK launch of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s Square

We were fascinated by a panel discussion between leading YA writers Susin Nielsen, Sara Barnard, Mel Darbon and Lisa Williamson. The opportunity to be part of the live experience of listening and watching these talented writers made me think and learn.

(Watch out for the inclusion of Mel Darbon’s acclaimed ‘Rosie and Jack‘ aboard Bookwagon shortly.)


The guest

Bookwagon joined award-winning writer Lisa Thompson at the Surrey school at which she was guest recently. Children queueing to have books signed, and staff who had participated in the live experience, were ecstatic. One girl told me, ‘I love her writing but now I know her. I will never forget this.’

Interacting with a book creator enables readers to realise fully the craft and the journey of a book.

Award-winning guest writer, Lisa Thompson
The bookseller

Word of our platform of selling books that we know and love only has grown. It means that we have more popup book sales, and people seek our recommendations with growing confidence. We match readers to books confidently. Knowing a child will LOVE a recommended book is the greatest joy of my bookselling experience.

A major reason I created Bookwagon was because of the number of parents who sought my reading recommendations for their children. I wanted to focus on the live experience of reading.

   Sharing Bookwagon titles
Gift book subscriptions

Bookwagon posted its first gift books from our new subscription at the start of this month. I felt a flutter wrapping our selection. Reading through information about the readers sent by parents and grandparents, is a responsibility. Yet already, I feel as though I KNOW these readers.

One subscriber has a title earmarked for her already. I can contemplate the live experience she might have as she opens the parcel and surveys the blurb. I’ll be crossing my fingers, hoping I’ve got it right…

First feedback to our first posting offered, ‘She was enraptured.’ What a word! What a feeling!

            Gift of reading
To Christmas

I have reserved a pile of books for Jolablokaflod (Icelandic Christmas Eve book sharing and reading). I’ve broken my vow to read adult titles across the evening.  There is a desperate stockpile of new release titles to read and share, including new titles by Lisa Thompson, Lucy Strange, Karen McCombie and Fleur Thompson.

Jolablokaflod, Christmas Eve

Bookwagon will be looking back on a ground-breaking year and toward to a new year of opportunity, reading and the live experience!

Meanwhile, happy reading!