Nostalgic memories abound at the book fair. While there are plenty of nifty independent book fairs that feature community-friendly setups, the collective experience is largely reminiscent of the Scholastic Book Fair, which has been selling books (and glowing pens) to schools for years. 80. Although returning memes are relatable, my job as a school librarian has completely changed my relationship with the book fair. There is still a lot of joy, but a lot more chaos, and often a useful reward for supporting my library and programming.
I just closed the eighth book fair that I organized in my elementary school, and I have to say that I learned a lot by running a small pop-up store three times a year. Knowing what to add, what to cut, and where to direct my energy has been learned over time, and of course, it always varies depending on your school population and circumstances. Despite this, I have tried to put together some useful tips for anyone embarking on the project of hosting the book fair. I hope you find some wisdom to support you in this mad rush.
Fix your focus
As cheesy as it sounds, setting your goal will really help all other policies and decisions line up. Why are you organizing a book fair? Is this a fundraiser for your school? Is it a literacy initiative to put books in the hands of families? Do you reward children by giving them access to a choice of books? The answers to these questions will change the way you run your salon. If the book fair is a fundraiser, then the promotion and sending of money by parents is a priority. Your energy should be devoted to making it easy for parents to understand book times / prices and there should be easy ways to get funds for school (online options, cash, clear check information, etc. .). If you are trying to create joy and encourage reading, then money should be less of a barrier. Your energy should be devoted to getting partners to sponsor children who cannot shop. If the goal doesn’t seem clear, everything else is DIFFICULT.
In my school, I made the decision to organize some fairs for fundraising and others for the joy of books. Our November fair is a fundraiser. If someone is unable to purchase a book, I have a favorite activity available during the buying time and I make sure they can weigh in on any titles they would like me to add at the library. In March, every child receives a book, regardless of their ability to pay. I obviously make less profit in March, but focusing on fundraising in November allows for free books to be offered at our Spring Show. When I started I felt bad when the kids couldn’t participate and tried to slip books bought from the library to all the kids who felt disappointed – it ended up dropping profits and being messy. Clear expectations for myself and with the students have helped me immensely.
Choose your promotions
When working with Scholastic to organize a book fair, there are many options for promoting the fair. You will be encouraged to organize special events for parents, grandparents and teachers. You will receive signage, social media templates, flyers, and more. If you are a school librarian, you will fit all of this preparation into your regular teaching schedule. I learned the hard way that overwhelming is real.
It may take a bit of trial and error, but I strongly suggest that you restrict the ways you promote the fair. The majority of the population in my school have babysitters who work or watch small children when their children are at school, so although we do invite parents to come shopping with their children, I do not organize any giant events. which requires parents or grandparents to participate. I do take the time to personalize the principal letter template, however, as emails from our principal are one of the primary forms of communication at our school.
In addition, I stopped trying to adapt the preparation for the book fair to my teaching and make it the focus of the lesson the week before the fair. This is when I share book trailers for titles that will be at the fair, distribute schedules and book flyers, and go over the details of how the titles will be at the fair. things will unfold with each individual class. It makes things easier for me and also creates a hype for the fair which usually leads to more successful sales when things finally start.
Cut the way, the way back
I would say right away that I share a personal choice: skip the decorations. Each year, the Scholastic Book Fair has a theme for each of its seasons, and you can purchase table runner and other kits to help you decorate around the theme. I’ve known librarians who are passionate about decorating and even order large cardboard wall murals or ask people to wear costumes to boost morale. It’s fun and can be a personal spark of joy for some fair runners. But it’s super not necessary. Opening up the metal cases and lifting the included cardboard headers is more than enough to transform the space and incite the excitement.
This year I took it a step further and simplified the way I display things. Each living room comes with an assortment of 20 or more poster designs, stored vertically in a tall, slim box. In the past, I have done my best to display a copy of each design and give them a reference number so that I can research what poster a student would like to purchase. It’s so much work. This year my fair documents arrived late and I… just didn’t. I opened the tall, slim box and left it near the cash register. Reader, I have sold more posters than ever.
What I mean is there is enough excitement without creating any extra work for yourself. Make it as simple as possible and save your energy on problem-solving and counting money.
Restock early. No, earlier.
Once the fair has started, the restocking of popular titles is my greatest source of anxiety. With 500 students coming to the fair in four days, with unlimited makeup shopping spells for any student bringing in the cash, some things are running out quickly. It’s incredibly difficult to predict which titles will be sold out, even with a day of sales under your belt. With Scholastic, you also have to make a call to place orders, which means taking a break in the middle of sometimes busy days to log in, wait on hold, and then individually request titles.
I have found that without a solid plan, I deeply disappoint my midweek buyers. I make a point of making time to call and request an order for more than I think I need. I always sell everything.
Make a workbook
This last tip comes straight from my daughter Leslie Knope. It always seems obvious, but it took me years to do it: make a binder! If you have a place where all the information is stored, this startup process will become easier and easier each time. I actually have two iterations of this trick: a physical filing cabinet and a Google Drive folder. I keep things there such as a record of the start-up money I need to request, copies of our tax exemption certificates, template schedules and letters to parents, templates volunteer schedule, the signage I use to point out the piles of teacher wish lists, the phone numbers to contact Scholastic to reorder books and the direct number to my nearest Scholastic warehouse … honestly, every year i find myself scrambling to find a little bit of information and make sure it’s hidden to make my next salon easier.
Hope you found something to help you in planning your book fair. I could talk about book fairs all day (just ask my fellow patients!), But it’s definitely enough to get you started. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions – some of my most useful tips have come from discussions with other librarians. Whether you’re there to raise money or to nostalgia for the next generation of book fairs, keep up the great work!