Middle Grade Monday – Book Fair Week
Hello everyone! How many of you out there are in school libraries? Love it or hate it, sometimes we have to raise our own funds – usually by having a book fair. My school holds two a year, one spring and one fall. We haven’t had a decent budget for the library since before the economic ‘difficulties,’ and in recent years it has dried up completely. If you remember my post about our Book for All Readers program, that is where most of our fall book fair profits go. With the profits from our spring book fair, we try to replace items that have been lost or damaged, as well as purchase the popular new titles and additions to popular series. It’s a difficult juggling act. We’ve been waiting for a long time for things to turn around.
There are some real benefits (beyond the financial) to having a book fair, however, that I’d like to highlight. Firstly, it gets the students excited! Sure, they may be more excited about the posters and the fuzzy pencils than the books, but often that excitement will translate into the students taking more books home.
Students with more disposable income will purchase books from the book fair and have them at home. Students without will wait to see what items we chose to get from the book fair and add to the collection. Many studies show a significant positive correlation between the number of books in the home and student literacy rates. I’m willing to go to great lengths to get more books into the students’ hands.
Secondly, it engenders positive feelings about the library. I will often tell the other adults in my life that it is book fair week at school. Their most common response is, “Oh! I used to love book fair!” I’m not sure if I’m too old, or if my schools just never held them. I was always a library user anyway, though. My students generally see it as a positive experience and a service the library provides to them.
Finally, it’s a good way to see what books your students are really interested in. Often these are easily predictable. We always sell a good number of whichever is the newest Rick Riordan, Jeff Kinney, etc. Sometimes, though, your top sellers will come as a surprise. This past fall, our top seller was Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer, which received poor enough reviews that it hadn’t occurred to me to purchase any for our collection. Based on the students’ interest, though, I ended up adding two copies and they are always out.
Scholastic seems to be the only game in town these days. They offer a good set up, plenty of stock, and a fair return on the profit. Are there any other companies out there that you have used with success? Do you have any fond memories of book fair? Chime in in the comments section.
Filed under: Middle Grade Monday
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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