Three Tips for a Successful Book Fair
Working at four school libraries that serve students kindergarten through 6th grade, I’ve become very familiar with the Scholastic Book Fair. Scholastic sends you books, you sell ’em, and you keep a portion of the profits. I work with wonderful media assistants who help turn these sales into something pretty cool – an event that gets kids excited about reading. The following are some tips to consider if you’re new to the game.
1. Sell what you want to sell.
Book fairs come with plenty of things that are definitely not books. Software, games, pencils with all manner of fluffy and/or furry tops – there’s a lot of stuff to sort through. If you don’t like the idea of selling those items, don’t do it. At our fairs we try to strike a balance by focusing on the books and only putting out a small portion of the non-book items.
2. Have events where parents and kids can come together.
This is a big one. The proceeds of our fairs support the media center. We use the money to buy new books and make improvements to our libraries. While I definitely don’t prescribe to the attitude that we gotta maximize profits, I’m also willing to realize that parents want to buy books for their kids. It’s a positive thing. So in order for that to happen, it’s best to:
A: Hold your fair at night during parent/teacher conferences so that parents can come in with their children, or
B: Schedule an event when parents can come in during the school day, or
We typically go with “B” – holding book fair during conferences. We have tried the “C” route in the past as well. The book fair was held during conferences, but we also scheduled a lunch for parents to come eat with their kids and visit the fair. Good feelings all around.
3. Mascots help.
The media assistant who I work with at my K-2 building had the idea to get some costumes for the event, and it was genius. It was like we had celebrities in the house. We had a Wild Thing, a Clifford, and a Curious George. They got mobbed all day long. You can borrow the costumes for free from the Scholastic warehouse (if you live by one), but you can also order them up by from Costume Specialists, Inc. They have a big selection of children’s book characters, both old school (Cat in the Hat), and new (Geronimo Stilton).
The rental is free, but you’ve got to pay a pretty substantial shipping fee (which is listed on the site). In my opinion, however, it’s worth it.
Are you a book fair vet? Share your tips in the comments.
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About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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