Local bookstore Books Are Awesome of Parker aims to support area educators and schools while also fostering an appreciation for literature among young readers. Co-owner Wendy Withers spoke to …
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Local bookstore Books Are Awesome of Parker aims to support area educators and schools while also fostering an appreciation for literature among young readers. Co-owner Wendy Withers spoke to Colorado Community Media about programs to help teachers, the staff's favorite reads of 2021 and their most anticipated of 2022.
We (Danean Wisely and Wendy Withers) opened Books Are Awesome in December 2019, exactly two years ago. We have lived here in Parker for more than 18 years, and felt it was vital to have a local, independent bookstore in town. We love the book business, and sell only new books, plus puzzles, games, journals, candles, tote bags, reading glasses, and more! We currently host six book clubs in our store (Middle Readers, Young Adult, Mystery, Classics, New Releases and Romance), and you can find out more about them on our website (booksareawesome.org). We are thrilled to support Douglas County Schools in the Battle of the Books and other literacy programs. We have author events many Saturdays showcasing mostly local authors.
What were your favorite books you read in 2021?
SciFi: “Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir and “Under the Whispering Door” by TJ Klune
Young Adult: “Act Cool” by Tobly McSmith
Historical Fiction: “The Prophets” by Robert Jones, Jr. and “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah
Romance: “One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston
Mystery: “How to Book a Murder” by Cynthia Kuhn — local author
Middle Reader: “Alone” by Megan Freeman — local author
Kid's Picture Book: “Sheepish (Wolf Under Cover)” by Helen Yoon — author and illustrator
What are some books you are most looking forward to reading in 2022?
I mostly read books for the book clubs (currently there are six per month held in-store), so that keeps me busy! We have an amazing local author/avid reader we work with who is able to do a lot of our advance reading — getting books before they are published in exchange for giving honest reviews. Her name is Meagan Dallner, and her Top 10 most-anticipated books for 2022 are:
1. “Like a Sister” by Kellye Garrett (March 8)2. “Book Lovers” by Emily Henry (May 3)3. “The Book of Cold Cases” by Simone St. James (March 15)4. “This Woven Kingdom” by Tahereh Mafi (Feb. 1)5. “The Violin Conspiracy” by Brendan Slocumb (Feb. 1)6. “The Book of Night” by Holly Black (May 3)7. “Gallant” by V.E. Schwab (March 1)8. “Upgrade” by Blake Crouch (July 19)9. “I Must Betray You” by Ruta Sepetys (Feb. 1)10. “The Ones We Burn” by Rebecca Mix (Nov. 1)
Do you have any reading recommendations for young learners in the new year?
There are so many great books for young readers! We can usually find a book that your child will love, and want to read — many for our younger readers are told from the viewpoint of an animal (like “Pax” or “Wings of Fire”), or are narrated by someone with a very different background (like “Look Both Ways” or “The Benefits of Being an Octopus”), or come in graphic-novel format (“Drama” or “Click” or “The Owl Diaries”). Come in and tell us what you like, and we will try to match you with a fabulous book!
Can you provide an overview of how the store supports and works with area educators?
We always offer an immediate 10% discount for educators and work closely with librarians and teachers to ensure that we have the required and recommended books that are assigned to students. We have held events in-store with PTOs and English departments to raise money for the PTO or department (they get a portion of sales during a specific time period) as well as to purchase books from the wish-lists of teachers and staff members.
What were some of your most memorable partnerships or events held with Douglas County educators or schools in 2021?
In August 2021 we had a week-long fundraiser for the Legend High School English Department that was phenomenal! We also held a PTO fundraiser in December 2021 for Mountain View and Northeast Elementary Schools' PTO, donated a portion of the sales and purchased over 30 wish-list books for teachers and staff!
What partnerships or events with schools and educators are you looking forward to in 2022?
We are thrilled to be a part of the Battle of the Books put on by Douglas County School District — finals take place in February 2022. We have all of the books for the third/fourth and fifth/sixth graders, and all of the books for the high school level. We would love to work with the other local Parker high schools (Ponderosa, Lutheran and Chaparral) to hold events (fundraisers, poetry slams, game nights, readings). Just contact the store!
Anything else you would add?
We always love to hear what books people are reading and loving — come see us and tell us which books you think are AWESOME!
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