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Norwich Bookstore Shares In Author’s Largesse

The Norwich Bookstore will receive a $5,000 cash award from best-selling author James Patterson, a slice of $1 million he’s pledged to give to bookstores around the country to help them thrive.

Liza Bernard, the co-owner of the Norwich Bookstore, said the money would go to expanding kids’ reading programs.

“Every little bit helps us get the word out that the programs exist,” she said.

Those programs include one that currently exists and another in the planning stages, both of which are put on in collaboration with the Norwich Public Library.

The store’s monthly “Second Saturday” series, which brings in authors and others in the book world to work with children, launched in December. The first event featured Jon Chad, a cartoonist teaching at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction; the second, in February, had Tracey Campbell Pearson presenting her children’s book Elephant’s Story. A January date was canceled due to bad weather.

The second event, Bernard said, will be a reading and discussion group for middle-grade readers. They’ll be offered a list of books to read that fit a common theme, and will hold group discussions on the third Thursday of each month during the school year. Bernard plans to kick that series off in September.

Patterson, who is perhaps best known for his Alex Cross detective series, decided to dole out a portion of his money to keep small, independent bookstores moving forward in whatever ways they deemed most important. The recently announced first round of gifts named 55 bookstores, all of which will receive sums of no more than $15,000.

“I was stunned, and very, very excited, and just honored to have been chosen,” Bernard said.

Patterson has been a strong advocate of independent bookstores, calling on the federal government last year to help save bookstores, much as it had stepped in to assist Wall Street and auto manufacturers.

This year, he put his personal fortune into the effort. “I’m rich; I don’t need to sell more books,” Patterson told the New York Times. “But I do think it’s essential for kids to read more broadly. And people just need to go into bookstores more.’’

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.