We’re back with another of our Bookspot of the Week, in which we here at Bookstr pick one independent bookstore that we’re currently loving! This week we’re using some pixie dust and wonderful thoughts to fly to Denver. Join us in our newest adventure to visit the Second Star to the Right Books Bookstore for its grand reopening this Saturday, April 30th!
We were able to catch up with Second Star to the Right Books’ store manager and event coordinator, Sophie, to get a bit more insight into the store’s everyday life. Second Star to the Right is a children’s and young adult bookstore owned and operated by former teachers!
Let’s take flight with Second Star to the Right Books!
First off, we’ve got to learn more about this phenomenal staff! So Sophie, what’s your favorite book?
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I first read it in 2015, have read it every year since! It’s absolutely perfect for those who love books because almost every character in the book is a Bookworm.
The past few years I’ve read it, the realization of how it kind of works for today’s world shocked me. For those who don’t know, the story takes place post World War II, people are getting back on their feet after a time when many were dying, hiding away in fear, people ostracized, people getting taken from their homes, losing their homes, everything on hiatus, children growing up under unusual circumstances, people encouraged to carry around gas masks, sound slightly familiar? And before you start thinking, that’s too heavy for me right now, wait one more second. The characters in this book, acknowledge these hardships, come together to grow, finding the joy in life again, embracing their true happiness. This story makes my head feel lighter, my heart happier, and my soul fulfilled.
Do you have any staff picks or releases we should watch out for?
Some might say we might have too many, others might say never enough. In May Andrea Wang’s Luli and the Language of Tea. In June Lily Williams’ final book in the If Animals Disappeared Series, If Tigers Disappeared. We are hosting both of those launches, and feel truly honored.
Picture Books: Hugsby by Dow Phumiruk, Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, Be You by Peter H. Reynolds, Knight Owl by Christopher Denise, Hey You! An Empowering Celebration of Growing Up Black by Dapo Adeola, Patrick’s Polka-Dot Tights by Kristen McCurry, Crunch the Shy Dinosaur by Cirocco Dunlap, Do Princesses and Super Heroes Hit the Trails by Carmela LaVigna Coyle, any book from Chris Haughton, Shannon Hale, Sandra Boynton, The Fan Brothers, Jason Gruhl, and so many more!
Early Readers: Yasmin Series by Saadia Faruqi, Princess in Black Series by Shannon and Dean Hale, Zoey and Sassafras Series by Asia Citro, Ivy and Bean Series by Annie Barrows, Dragonsitter Series by Josh Lacey.
Middle Reader/Grade: Way too many! But this is the most fun and trickiest because it’s where children are truly developing and figuring our their interests. Any of the Rick Riordan Presents, Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs, Many Meanings of Meilan by Andrea Wang, Alone by Megan E. Freeman, The Visitors by Greg Howard, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Series by Maryrose Wood, Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Chris McKay Heidicker to name a few.
Young Adult: Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi, Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, Curse of the Spector Queen by Jenny Elder-Moke, Hero by Perry Moore, Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi, Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand, we could go on…
Graphic Novels: Garlic and the Vampire by Bree Paulsen, Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani, Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker, Go With the Flow by Lily Williams, The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza by Mac Barnett and Shawn Harris, Flamer by Mike Curato, Tomie by Junji Ito, seriously checkout Graphic Novels, we love so many!
Adult: Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, Imaginary Friends by Stephen Chbosky, My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara!
Do you hand-pick your staff to create a specific environment?
Yes! Dea and I go through the candidates, and interview together. We are very in-sync, knowing who we are looking for, the right fit to embrace the Second Star spirit. They have that certain twinkle in their eye, friendly, work great with kids, someone who accepts everyone, and not only loves books, but understands them.
Do you tailor your inventory according to your community?
We love and honor our community, and strive to constantly have book selections to show our love and honor. We check out their recommendations, love supporting Colorado authors, and fill our shelves with suggestions from Booksellers. This is also where our Middle Grade & YA Advisory Group comes into play. They read and review books not published yet, giving feedback on what we should stock.
How do you create a welcoming environment for your local community?
By welcoming everyone. We want no child left behind, feeling left out, or most importantly, not seeing themselves on our bookshelves. Diversity is a slow-growing process in the Book World, as long as we keep having the conversations, actually listening and learning, and stocking our shelves with books of actual, everyday people, we will get there. And at Second Star we are determined to be there because that is a welcoming environment, feeling heard and being seen.
Our store is a safe space. A safe space to be yourself, a safe space to read books you may not be able to read in other places.
What about your store do you think appeals to your neighborhood?
Our neighborhood is one of the older ones in Denver, and good ol’ Pearl Street strives to have something unique and fun for everyone. We are a true neighborhood that supports each other, encourages customers to visit one another, working together to create fun Pearl Street Events.
And besides, every neighborhood needs a bookshop.
How do you feel your bookstore fits into your local community?
Our local community is filled with kids and readers, and we offer an almost daily (minus Sundays) storytime. The Caregivers who bring their kids to our Storytime know we cater our selection to books of inclusivity, interaction, and imagination. For the older kids, we offer a Middle Grade & YA Advisory Book Club, and work with the program, Denver Writes.
What’s lovely about our community is they are constantly coming by our store. We get the opportunity to know their names, watch their children grow, and play with their dogs, creating a bond that quickly transforms from customer to friend.
In true bookspot fashion, let’s get the real details on Second Star to the Right Books!
How did you bookstore transition from concept to reality?
Dea Lavoie, our fairy godmother of an owner, was an elementary school teacher for twelve years. After leaving the teaching world, she didn’t want to give up the fostering of young minds, so she created her dream of owning a children’s bookstore. With a love of books, and the belief, “That there aren’t any kids who don’t like to read, but only kids who haven’t been introduced to the kinds of books that speak to them! I am eager to help with that journey of exploration,” a Second Star was born.
As for the name, Dea was watching the beloved-classic Hook, heard those whimsical directions to Neverland, and knew she found her store name.
What do you feel is unique to your bookstore?
We love saying, “The Magic of Second Star” because that is what one feels when walking into our colorful building, magic. From Peter Pan and Tinkerbell floating in our Storytime Room to the moon watching over our Picture Book Section to a rocket ship reading nook in our Toy Room, pure magic.
A lot of people, myself included, embrace their child at heart, stepping into Second Star takes you through a magical time portal where you can greet your younger self. We encourage the adults to not just buy a picture book for their kid, or their niece/nephew, the Baby Shower they’re about to attend, but one (or five) for their child at heart.
If you had infinite space, what might you add to the store?
More books! We wish we could have everyone’s favorite on our shelves. Luckily, we can special order in a book for someone, if our distributor carries it, at no additional charge. We’d also enjoy adding a cafe, but thank goodness our street has Stella’s Coffee and the Tokyo Bakery. We’d love expanding the size of our Storytime Room, and if our backyard was bigger, definitely a playground with a swing set.
What does your store offer that a chain or online retailer can’t?
To sort of combine two earlier answers, magic and community, and to add a third, our Booksellers. I’ve personally worked for corporate companies before, and though they have their perks on certain things, working for a Mom & Pop Shop is vastly refreshing. We get to truly hear what our community needs and wants, and be able to put it into gear faster than running it up the corporate ladder.
Our Booksellers, to simply put it, are wonderful. They work every day to expand their knowledge of books, they’re friendly, and care that each customer gets what they’re looking for at our shop. Not only are they Booksellers, but they run our Storytime, Twitter, TikTok, write our Newsletters, host our Book Clubs and Birthday Parties, and share their ideas. They are the bookstore, and make everything extra magical and personal.
We actually have an online retailer portion, which is a great avenue for those who cannot make it into our store for various reasons. On our website, we offer mainly new releases, books we love and want others to love, pre-orders, and books for upcoming author events. We have a shop on Bookshop.org and Libro.fm. All of our online areas are hand-picked by our staff.
And as a parting gift to us, is there anything else that the staff at Second Star to the Right Books would like our audience to know?
Delays are still happening at this time, book releases getting pushed back, shipment times vary, and we thank everyone for their kindness and patience. We are all getting through this crazy time together, Second Star is here for you! To read, to cry, to laugh, to be your home away from home.
We’d like to thank everyone for supporting their Local-Independent Bookstore! If you don’t have one near you, please check out Bookshop.org or Libro.fm to support Indie Bookstores.
Remember, Second Star to the Right Books is having its grand reopening this Saturday, April 30th in Denver, Colorado! Use some of your pixie dust and give them a visit, say Bookstr sent ya!
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