“I love it…reading is the key to everything in life and I have loved reading to children ever since my son went to kindergarten where I read to his classroom every Friday,” said Schwartz.
Schwartz has been a volunteer with Bookmarks long before the store opened on West Fourth Street downtown in July. In the past, Bookmarks had been operating out of a basement and is known for its annual week-long book festival.
Bookmarks is an independent, non-profit bookstore that’s trying to establish itself as a community center and a literary arts home. Its bookshelves are stocked with up to date books for all different realms of people.
“I don’t feel like this is as commercialized compared to a Barnes & Noble,” Schwartz said. She spoke about how Bookmarks has better personal service and is far more engaging with the community.
Ginger Hendricks, the Executive Director, said that their story time on Wednesday morning generally draws stay-at-home moms and children from the Foundations Early Learning Center.
During Halloween story time, 17 students from Chris Lee’s and Belinda Gerber’s Junior Pre-K and Pre-K classrooms happily listened to an assortment of Halloween themed children’s books while sitting on the carpet right in front of Schwartz. Schwartz read “Room on the Broom”, “Trick or Treat, Smell my Feet”, “Pete the Cat – Five Little Pumpkins” and “I’m Going to Eat You.”
“[Bookmarks] means everything to us,” said Lee. “Literacy is the foundation of what we try and teach the kids and without Bookmarks, we wouldn’t be able to do what we need to do so we really appreciate the huge support that Bookmarks has given us.”
Lee and Gerber’s classrooms have been coming to story time every week ever since Bookmarks opened their new store.
According to Lee, Bookmarks story time helps them with the concepts and standards that they try and teach.
“All of our story time readers are all volunteers,” said Hendricks. “On Saturdays we have a wider variety of people.”
Hendricks explained how on Saturday’s there is normally a craft in addition to just the reading.
“We had a social justice event last weekend where we read about bullies which we try to do once a month and we had a career series too,” Hendricks said.
According to Hendricks, “We really had limited space before, so it’s nice to have a place that we can call home.”
Hendricks said that there has been an almost 200% increase in their events going from 5 to 15 in a month since they moved into this new space. She said the space has been very well received by the community.
“We wanted a space people could come to and connect with books that they might not have known about before, which is our mission,” said Hendricks.
As stated on their website, Bookmarks mission is to, “…foster a love of reading and writing in the community by connecting readers and authors through our annual Festival of Books, an Authors in Schools program, and year-round author events held here and across the Triad. By buying books from us, volunteering your time, sharing your enthusiasm and donating monetarily, each person who walks through our doors will help our nonprofit accomplish the important work of out mission for years to come.”
By the end of the year, Bookmarks and Foothills Brewing next door will have a shared space in between both of their storefronts. Drinks will be offered for patrons to enjoy while in the bookstore and this space will provide a larger area for big events.
Bookmarks was founded in 2004 by the Junior League of Winston-Salem and became a nonprofit in 2006, according to the Winston Salem Journal.
For more information please visit their website at http://www.bookmarksnc.org.