September Reading by Laurie Calkhoven

There are good and bad things about posting on Smack Dab toward the end of the month. On the positive side, I get to read what everybody else has written about a particular topic and often that awakens an idea for me. On the negative, sometimes I feel as if I have nothing new to add.

I felt that way this month. My September memories are much like those of the other writers on this blog. I, too, delighted in shopping trips, new school supplies, and the idea of a clean slate. I entered every September with optimism and joy. As much as it wasn’t cool to admit it back then, I enjoyed school. Summers were often boring, especially by the end of August.

I thought I had nothing to add, and then I remembered books. Wasn’t it exciting to get all those new books at the beginning of the school year? I can still remember the inky smell of them. And making book covers out of brown paper grocery bags.

But even better, there were the school book clubs. In the beginning of the school year, when the teachers were full of energy and willing to do extra, they passed out those book club flyers and sent them home with us. Those flyers were filled with affordable books, and I almost always got to buy something. Of course I wanted ALL of them, but I could choose one or two.

It was through the book clubs that I discovered Mary Norton’s The Borrowers series, and Marilyn Sachs—my favorite author in fifth and sixth grade—and too many others whose titles and authors elude me. But I can remember the day the book club box would arrive, and the teacher would pass out our books. I can remember the shiny, paperback covers, and the promise of getting lost in the story as soon as I got home from school. I’m sure that happened periodically throughout the school year, but I will always associate that particular joy with September.


  1. How could I forget the book covers? Putting a fresh bag on the new textbook was almost as much fun a s discovering what was inside. Thanks for that great reminder Laurie!

  2. The mention of paperbag book covers brought back a flood of wonderful childhood memories! So did the Scholastic Book Club boxes. Loved your description of the shiny covers. As a teacher, I was just as excited over the arrival of a Book Club box as I was as a kid! Thanks for these great memories!


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