Connecting with Kids

Josie Leavitt - May 11, 2016

The life of a bookstore owner has many perks: free books, great customers, meeting authors, and more. But for me the best part is making connections with children. Kids come to the store every day and there is real joy when these children become regular customers. To become part of a child’s world is a gift. Watching a little one learn to walk, read, and get comfortable in the bookstore is such fun. The best part is when the kids get to know me.
There is a young girl, Emma, who just turned five last month. Emma has been shopping at the store since her family moved to Shelburne three years ago. Little Emma was the cutest toddler, shy smile, often hiding behind her mom’s leg when we would play peek-a-boo. As Emma came to the store more, we learned each other’s names and would greet each other with big smiles. Now that she’s five and is learning how to read we have even more to talk about. She is a delightful child who said on her last visit to the store, “Do you have any books on capatillars?” I smiled at this, trying very hard not to laugh a little at her adorable mispronunciation of caterpillar.
I have watched this little person grow from a shy toddler to a very social child. I was in Burlington (about 10 miles from the bookstore) the other day with a friend and heard a small voice shouting from a car, “Josie! Josie! Hi!!!” My friend just started laughing as we both looked up to see a small hand waving vigorously¬†from the open window at the traffic light. I shouted back, “Hi Emma!!” I could see her smiling and her mom laughing before the light changed and they went about their day.
Emma regularly asks her mom if they can come to the bookstore just to say hi. I love this because the store has become a place a child wants to visit. The bookstore is a place she calls home. Now that Emma and I know each other better, hugs are part of every visit. And honestly, what is better during a workday than getting a hug from a kid? As she gets older the hugs won’t happen as often, but the store will be solidly¬†part of her world. She will become a great reader who talks passionately about books with me and I will remark at how big she’s getting and ask about school. Then one day she will come in swinging car keys from her hand and talking about where she wants to go to college. She will visit the store when she’s home from school and I will look back fondly at how this little girl has grown up to be a wonderful young adult. The lovely part about all of this is how many kids have this relationship with the store.

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