I love the last weeks of summer. I can feel a tiny chill in the air that means fall is around the corner. What makes these weeks fun are the different types of customers whose shopping habits have become a wonderful summer tradition.
The first customer is the utterly frantic student who has somehow managed to not do their assigned summer reading. These kids kill me. I see them come in and their eyes dart from shelf to shelf scanning for the shortest possible book that will fulfill the criteria of their school. I keep a lot of Jack London and Jules Verne on hand for these emergencies. I try not to laugh as they act like I’m psychic when they walk in and I just hand them a short classic. It’s an amusing rite of summer that I enjoy, just like back-to-school commercials made me laugh rather than fill me with dread as they used to. It is a rare kid who comes in this week who has actually finished all their summer reading or the essay that needs to get done too.
My nephew is starting seventh grade at a private school next week and he still has his essay to go. His school assigns a reading response essay to be written in the style of the author of the book. I think this is a great assignment. I asked Will what he was doing and he told me he got great advice from a fellow student who told him: pick somebody old who uses big words and long sentences. I thought that was fabulous.
The second customer is the teacher doing last-minute shopping for his or her classroom. This time of year teachers are happy, and harried, as they prepare for the arrival of their students. This year we had a first-year teacher who was told to create a great library for her sixth grade language arts class room, with a range of reading levels from second grade to ninth grade. Her enthusiasm was contagious. Every book I recommended was met with a broad smile and vigorous nodding and saying, ” Yup, great.” We organized the stacks into every genre. It was exhilarating to get books in that classroom that were midlist gems, great multicultural stories, and contemporary treasures that I thought the kids would love. I will sa:y every teacher who has been shopping this week has been really excited about books, more so than in years past. I’m not sure why, but it’s been really fun.
The last group are the tourists whose school year starts later than Vermont’s. They seem to buy books in bulk. They are on the last weeks of their summer vacation and they are going to read. This group lets us feel the love. Sadly, a lot of these folks don’t have good indies where they live, so they soak in our store. They ask our names, they shake our hands when they leave.
What’s great about all these groups is they value our store. While the students might not be waxing rhapsodic about us, they appreciate us for saving their bacon. I treasure the teachers and the tourists these two weeks because they’re fun and rewarding, and they extend my summer, too.