As I am about to embark on yet another book fair I am left to wonder why do I REALLY have one every year?
Is it because of the fact that we want to promote reading to our students? I love the idea of promoting independent reading to students but not all students and parents can afford the books and material at the fair. We are a Title I School and I have a lot of students who can not afford the materials at the fair. It always makes me sad to see these students want all these books but know they can’t get them cause they don’t have the money. The irony is also not lost on me that I am having the fair in my library and asking kids to pay for books when they could just check out books for free from the library. And let’s be honest, how many kids are buying books and how many use their money on the pens, pencils, erasers etc? I know at my school way more is spent on “junk” than books.
Do we have book fairs because it is one of the only ways we can get money and material for our school libraries? I know that is the case for me. My budget is small and seems to get smaller each year. I am left looking for ways to supplement it and the book fair, even though I don’t earn very much from it. It is though a sad commentary on public education today that we are not giving enough money to our libraries and we need to rely on book fairs.
Or is it because it is tradition and something we as School librarians must do? When I came into my new job I was told we always do the book fair during parent teacher conferences, so I am continuing that tradition. It does make me wonder, just because it has always been done does that mean that I must continue doing it. I am reminded of a quote from Grace Hooper that states, “the most dangerous phrase in the language is we have always done it.”
I really would love to honestly know why you have a book fair. Please let me know in the comments below.
11/9/2017 09:43:44 pm
I do a bookfair every year because from the day UPS wheels the boxes into the building until the day they wheel them back out, my kids are talking about books. The excited voices in the hallway telling the world “the bookfair is here!.” And answering the question, “When does it start?” 7456 times over the course of the next several days. They love it!
11/9/2017 09:57:52 pm
Thanks for your comments Deb! I love what your PTA has been able to make happen so that all kids can get a book.
11/9/2017 10:01:25 pm
I feel like you wrote this post about me! I do a book fair for all the same reasons... extra money, the kids love it, we’ve “always” had one, etc. But the kids really do love it...they’re always asking “when is the next book fair?”. I’m exhausted from staying late to set it up and trying to run it while I still have my full load of classes but, it’s the kids. I do it mostly for the kids!
11/10/2017 12:39:00 pm
How awesome is it that you get that financial support to help your kids get a book! We don’t get any help at all, but our reasons are the same. Some kids come and read books while they are at the fair. Kids help me know from their comments and purchases what I ought to purchase for our library. And the love of books is always the top priority. I’m in Title I schools also. I also remember the joy and thrill of going to the book mobile when I was a kid. We didn’t have book fairs. Making my choices and buying them were totally exciting. And I was learning a bit about spending money, saying no to things I wanted and had no money to pay for as well as counting my money out and counting my change. How much time do we spend on more dreary things at school and how much time on truly exciting things? Sometimes I’m tempted to cancel that second fair but we don’t because the kids love it so and want it.
11/9/2017 10:00:16 pm
I’m glad you asked! I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week as I help kids count out mountains of coins. In the past, I probably would have said “to make money to buy books for the library”. But, after an inspriring session I attended at our state conference last week my motivation for having a Book Fair has shifted. Yes, I want to make money, but it’s not solely for our library. I want to put books in my students’ hands. I don’t want them to have to put a new book on hold and wait. I want them to have the books they love and want to read. I love the excitement students have during the fair, but hate the sad faces of the ones that can’t afford a book. So, I’ve had “contests” everyday. I’ve given away a lot of books. So, I’ll get less “dollars” this time around, but it sure has been fun to give so many books to kids!
11/9/2017 10:15:44 pm
We're in a Title 1 District. Last year was my first book fair, and at an all-kindergarten school. I couldn't lock the middle school library where I was before so would not hold a book fair where things could disappear.
11/9/2017 10:24:21 pm
This year was my first book fair ever and it was also a first for a majority of the students at our school; we haven't had a book fair in over 4 years (due to admin thinking everything Scholastic sells is junk) but somehow with working at the school all summer I managed to convince them. My first biggest reason was I have ran my library for over 2 years and was never able to order a single book which was extremely frusterating. Especially since the library was ran by no one for almost 6 months and lots of materials and books were just taken out of the library. Second, our school very much lacks in anything "fun". No Halloween celebrations, no Christmas parties, (No parties at all), no prizes, no treats, no toys....ever!! So this was the most fun these kids ever had at school. Seeing all the fun theming and the shiny new books brought a lot of joy to the kids at our school which goes to my third reason of making reading fun and promoting books they love. Sure, I'm not a fan of some of the "garbage" books but at least the kids are reading and not glued to an iPad or tv screen. I ended up making $14,354 in profits from a $8,000 book fair. My reps were floored and I took it all in Scholastic dollars so I can hopefully replace a lot of our old materials.
11/10/2017 09:44:10 am
I worked at the primary level from 1999 until 2010, and I'm 💯 certain that I had these book fairs to bring in an extra $5,000 (profit) a year. That money allowed me to increase book volumes that would benefit the entire school. Every year I would set aside a small portion to hold a puppet show or some form of entertainment that expanded a famous book. I had my fair set up so everyone got to look, and I didn't advertise look day so no one had money. The following day was their purchase day, which meant the student would return make their purchase and return to class. The books were put in a bag and then sent home in their backpacks. Once the fair was over I sent the book order in as fast as I could spend the money. When the books arrived I made a huge deal out of the fact that these books were for the library, and checkout didn't cost a thing! Now I work in the high school level, although I make some money from the fair to buy about 25 books from the Scholastic Online Catalog, my motivation is to provide literacy to high school students. I find delight in seeing high school students still get excited about the good ol' book fair 👍🏻
11/10/2017 07:17:00 pm
I have them because it is the only way most kids can browse books for sale, in person. We do not have a bookstore within 70 miles of us. It isn't an opportunity a lot of my students do not get otherwise.
11/11/2017 09:02:53 am
I love all inspirational comments! Right now I am in the middle of my bookfair at the middle school where I have served for 9 years. When I opened this library in 2009, we had 1,500 books. The collection has grown to nearly 8,000. Bookfair profits have played a large part in this growth. But it’s not why I hold them.
Leave a Reply.
Elissa Malespina is the High School Librarian at Verona High School and a Presenter, Author and much more. The views are my own. Find my full resume above.