Every year the Shelburne Community School kindergartners come to the bookstore. They walk over, hand in hand, from the school down the road. They pile into the store, one class at a time and settle in the picture book section on our comfy rug. It’s a cozy tradition.
This year, sixteen kids, all fresh-faced and earnest, excitedly arranged themselves on the rug. They looked up at me and said things like, “I’ve been here!” “I was just here last week!” and “Can you put this on my wish list?” One curly-headed moppet turned to me and said, with a gravity befitting a 60-year-old man, “You remember me, don’t you?” Well, not exactly, but I shook my head vigorously and said of course I did.
The kids were supposed to ask us about running a business in Shelburne and we were supposed to read a story. No one really cared about commerce except they all guessed that we had been in business for one hundred years! (Wow, some days it feels like that, but….) Really, they just wanted the stories. I read two Halloween stories, with my most convincing BOO, and no one was scared. In fact, they all knew where the ghosts were hiding in the book (having read it recently), so it wasn’t very scary. That’s a good thing with kindergartners, I think.
Elizabeth was on hand when the second class came in. The beauty of Elizabeth is she owns the store and has published books. The kids thought that was fairly amazing. It was especially nice when the kids noticed that they had read her books from the school library. Eyes widened as they realized the real author was going to read to them. Their questions to her were a little more interesting, although the most sincere kid rushed to raise her hand and I was expecting some thought-provoking question, but rather, she just wanted to share, “I have a friend named Elizabeth.” The kids were adorable and it was great fun to have half the kindergarten come to the store. Wednesday the rest of them are coming in for more stories and fun.
The walk around town visiting all the places that children might like is always fun for me. I think it’s great that kids who might not have ever come to the store, pop by during school. They can see how the teachers support us, and that sends a small message that the Flying Pig is a safe and fun place for them. We were very quick to let them know that they could just come to the store to look at books, they never had to buy any books with us, they could take them out from the library first to see if they really liked the books.
As they were leaving (getting 16 five-year-olds out the door is a lot like herding kittens), I marveled at the simplicity of “Find your partner and hold their hand.” That’s all it took and just as easily as they entered, they left, happily burbling about the bookstore.