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Real Life Story - Sarah North

4th April 2019

We love hearing our Organisers' success stories, particularly when it comes to new and creative ways of establishing a presence in local communities. Sarah North shares with us how she decided to put a unique twist on story times, with wonderful (and yummy!) results.

Here is Sarah's story:

"I'm overwhelmed to find out that my story times have been discussed. Here I was thinking that what I was doing was just a small drop in a huge ocean!

When I first started with Usborne Books at Home, I wanted to create something that could bring our books to life. I knew about all of the different places that we could sell our books, but that wasn't quite enough for me.

I wanted to create a solid foundation for my business by being my own unique selling point. I also wanted to build stronger links with the community - what better way is there to make sure people think of you first than by getting to know them.

My Mentor, Vikki, had mentioned story times, but I wondered how I could put a unique spin on the idea. My first event was a Llamas in Pyjamas themed story time. All the children attending (and myself!) wore pyjamas. There was also a themed afternoon tea to go with the story. The children found this so engaging - after all, who doesn't love getting into their PJs on a Sunday afternoon? The event also provided a brilliant networking event, allowing me the chance to speak with parents about our titles (with particular interest in our phonics range!).

Following on from this, I wanted to carry on exploring the immersive side of story times. Where better to look than Poppy and Sam? I contacted my local farm and tea shop and they were happy to host an event which included a meet and greet with the animals, after having some lunch of course! We read Farmyard Tales books and transformed the setting into Apple Tree Farm. The children loved listening while seeing the animals come to life - so much so that I'm currently in the process of setting up a second meet and greet session!

Inspired by the success of these events, I have since gone on to host an Are you there little unicorn? themed story time, and have booked in a 'Poppy and Sam Easter Egg Hunt' where we'll enjoy a small Easter egg hunt and a 'find the duck' competition, all alongside a themed afternoon tea.

Anyone can sell books if they try, but how do we get people to buy into the Usborne Books at Home community when the convenience of the online shopping world is accessible via the click of a button? For me, it's easy: visibility and approachability. I use the same posters to advertise all of my story times so that people can instantly recognise my events.

I love it now that I can recognise children who have been to a number of my story times. I also love that I get to chat to parents and learn about their children, which puts me in a stronger position to be able to offer recommendations for the perfect books.

You can only form strong links with your community if you put yourself out there and become a part of that community. What's the best that can happen?"

Thank you for sharing your success with us, Sarah. We hope this inspires other Organisers to plan some fabulously creative events!