Most dreams a person has while asleep tend to evaporate in the warm light of day.
But for Mindy Smith, there was one dream that for days, weeks and months remained stubbornly embedded in her mind.
“It was just so incredibly vivid,” Smith said. “I dreamed that I was in this bookstore, that it looked a certain way, that it had these certain things in it.
“It was so vivid, it was almost as if someone was trying to show me something or tell me something,” she said.
That dream will become a reality Smith will share with others when Lavender’s Bleu Literacy Market opens Saturday, Dec. 8, at 8120 S. Harvard Ave.
The store gets the first part of its name from an old nursery rhyme, which ties in with it featuring books for young readers of all ages.
“The space we have used to be a bridal shop, so we have all these little rooms,” Smith said. “Everything is going to be story-related. For example, the young adult section will be decorated to look like an armoire, so it will be a little like entering Narnia when you go into that room.”
The second part of the store’s name speaks to Smith’s purpose in starting such a business.
“I’m very much aware that opening a bookstore these days is a huge gamble, which is why I wanted to make this something more than a bookstore, to have all these other things going on around books and stories,” she said.
Lavender’s Bleu will also offer materials for teachers, as well as professional development opportunities, to help them teach young people to learn to read and enjoy books more effectively.
“When The Apple Tree (a store specializing in educational materials) closed a couple of years ago, there was no place where teachers could obtain good materials for teaching literacy,” said Smith, who recently retired from a career in education that included 15 years as a reading specialist at Northeastern University.
“I wanted to have a place where teachers would be valued and honored as they deserve and offer them something special — the things they want and need to better teach their students,” she said.
Smith started out as an early intervention reading specialist at Eisenhower Elementary before moving into higher education “teaching teachers how to teach reading,” she said.
“I loved being in the classroom and working with students directly,” Smith said. “But I realized that this way I would be able to have an impact on more children than I could in a classroom.”
She said she plans to offer tutoring in reading for youngsters, who will work with Ph.D.- and master’s-level reading specialists.
“It’s all about getting books into children’s hands and getting them excited about reading again,” she said. “So much of reading in schools is geared to performance — you have to read this book in order to take a test about it, and the end result is that kids end up hating to read.
“We’ve taken all the joy and magic out of reading in the way it’s being taught these days,” Smith said. “I want to bring a little bit of that magic back.”