The Rituals of Fall

Josie Leavitt - September 7, 2010

I know it’s not quite fall yet. But all the kids in Vermont have gone back to school and this changes the shopping patterns at the bookstore. I’m always amazed how a school day feels different than a summer day.
There is a calm that comes to the bookstore once the kids go back to school and the tourists leave for a little bit. A summer day can be busy at any time, with entire families coming in seeking books. In the fall, we don’t tend to see the whole family, we see relieved parents who can now shop at a leisurely pace, uninterrupted by the demands of children. The mornings we see single shoppers, almost exclusively women, who are shopping either for themselves or getting gifts for kids. There is sometimes a small lunch-time rush, but there is not the crush of customers of late July or August.
The rush for us in the fall starts immediately after school lets out. First we’ll see the kids who either walk or bike to school. They’ll stop at the store on their way home to see if anything new has come in. Then after sports practice lets out, usually around 4, we’ll have a steady stream of families picking up special orders or getting birthday presents. One thing that takes a while to happen after school starts is pleasure reading for the kids. The older the child, the more homework she gets and the less likely she is to buy a “fun” book to read. But once the homework load starts to seem manageable (usually around the end of September) kids will start reading just for the love of reading. It always saddens me is that we lose so many high school student freshmen to homework and not to pleasure reading. We get them back during holidays and summers, but I miss seeing them during the academic year.
I always enjoy fall because it’s a real breathing period before the craziness of the leaf peepers and then the holiday season. The weather is still gorgeous and I actually have time to enjoy it. Plus, I can wear a sweater to work in the morning.
On a completely different note, Elizabeth and I would like to take a moment to thank Alison for setting the bar for ShelfTalker so high, with three years of wonderful, entertaining, chock-full-of-fun blogs. Long before we joined PW as bloggers, we enjoyed her posts; they were always informative and creative — and she made them look easy. (Ha! We know better now.) We’re sure the blogosphere has not seen the last of Alison. Her energy and enthusiasm for children’s books (and everything related to them) are infectious, and we are delighted that, though her path has led away from bookselling, Alison is still very much a part of the children’s book world. Thanks so much, Alison, from all of us ShelfTalker readers and bloggers!

4 thoughts on “The Rituals of Fall

  1. Linda Lodding

    Thanks, Josie, for this posting. It’s so interesting to hear, from a bookstore owner perspective, how you experience the back-ro-school season. It’s nice to know that students still make room in their busy school days to stop in and poke around.
    And thank you, too, Alison!

  2. Alison Morris

    Thanks so much for those kind words, J and E! I just feel soooo happy that I’ve left ShelfTalker in the best possible hands. And I promise I won’t be a stranger! Expect to see ME now commenting on lots of your posts! ; )

  3. Ellen Scott

    On academic and pleasure reading done in the middle and high shool years– Every bookseller, librarian, high school teacher and principal needs to read Kelly Gallagher’s book Readicide:How Schools are Killing Reading and What You can do about it. I think this is a very important discussion on whether test scores are more important than creating lifelong readers.


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