Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Reaching Readers: Running the School Book Fair

I’ve had the pleasure of running our school book fair for several years now, and I’ll never give it up! What’s not to love? I get to play with all the shiny books before the kids lay hands to them. Unpacking all the boxes from the Scholastic warehouse is like opening presents on my birthday. I never know what I’ll find inside the box. Will it be the new Rick Riordan book? Or will it be a Spongebob Movie Tie-in book (blech!)?

It’s fun sorting through the boxes knowing that special book will, without a doubt, be bought by little Johnny who loves monster adventures, or that other special book will be bought by the middle school science teacher who just the other day was looking for a book on weather patterns. Oh yes, I know every book that I’ll sell out of. I also know every book that will sit untouched like the sad puppy at the pet store waiting for a new home.
That's my book fair! Look at all the pretty books!

My number one tip for running a successful book fair?

Know your readers.

I spend enough time in my children’s school (volunteering, chaperoning school trips, reading to the kindergarteners, talking to teachers) that I’ve gotten to know the school community. I know what gets the children and the faculty jazzed and I align the book fair accordingly.

This isn’t always easy. We use Scholastic for our book fair and, generally, Scholastic likes to send their “book fair in a box.” You get what you get and you don’t get upset. I’ve tried to get Scholastic to work with me on the book selection, but it’s often a losing battle. Instead, I open the boxes and see what I have to work with. One year, when THE LORD OF THE RINGS was crushing the movie box offices, I knew the two copies of Tolkien’s book I received would not nearly be enough to satisfy middle school demand. So THE LORD OF THE RINGS, along with about thirty other titles I knew would be big hits, went on a special rush order with Scholastic. I received the books within 2 days, in plenty of time for our book fair grand opening. The books I special order are always our biggest sellers.

I repeat...Know your readers!

Here are a few of my other tips to help you run a successful book fair:

  • Get teachers involved. Ask teachers to recommend books and display teacher recommendations prominently. Kids respect teacher recommendations.
  • Pay careful attention to book placement. Best sellers and popular selections should be placed right up front.
  • Group like with like. Middle grade books should not be placed on the same table as board books. Make shopping easy.
  • Encourage teachers to setup book wish lists for their classrooms. Parents love buying books for their child’s class. This is usually our biggest money maker.
  • Kids come with parents. Get some adult books (cookbooks, women’s lit, etc.) to draw parents into the shopping. Scholastic often staffs a reasonable adult selection on special order.

Do you have any other tips to help run a successful book fair?

1 comment:

  1. Great tips!
    I love our bi-annual book fair! I buy books for myself there. And it's so exciting to see the kids excited about books!


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