Today's post is written by Denise Smith. Denise was a Children's Librarian for 5 years before she started working in her current position at an urban charter school. Denise is currently working on a school Media Specialist Certification. She's also a certified knit & crochet instructor. She teaches at a craft store and offers free lessons at an area library.
Denise has 4 grandchildren who are the light of her life and she's happy to share her love of reading, knitting and crocheting with them. She's also very proud of her 5 adult children who sometimes let her knit and crochet for them too.
I recently held my first Scholastic Book Fair and even though it was a lot of work, it was well worth it. I work part-time as Library Manager/School Librarian at a K-8 Charter School and have been with the school since the beginning of this school year.
Because I only work 2 ½ days a week, it was necessary for me to go in on my 2 days off to get things set up. I watch two of my grandsons on Mondays so I had the privilege of taking a 2 year old and 8 month old with me. They occupied themselves looking at books. We spent most of our time in the library but the times we ventured out, the students fell in love with my grandchildren! Students wanted to know if they were my children or my nephews, they couldn’t believe that I’m a “grandma”. I know that once students get to know more about teachers and school staff as real people, they relate better so this was a good thing for us all.
I went in Tuesday afternoon to host a Sneak Preview for the staff. I offered them the opportunity to complete their wish lists and see the activities I had planned for the students. I was a little disappointed by the low turnout but I was very happy with those who did attend. They commented on what a good job I’d done decorating and setting everything up.
On Wednesday, I went to work early for some last minute set up and to offer before school shopping for parents as they arrived with their students.
To see the student’s expressions when they walked in the library was priceless! They wanted to know where I got everything from, how much it cost me, if they could use their library cards to “buy” books and if I did everything by myself.
I offered two contests giving students a chance to win prizes. My guessing game was “Jumping Jelly Beans”. All of the kindergartners thought there were 100 (their teachers said it’s the highest number they know- there were actually 996). I was most amazed by the 8th grade male students. They had a serious conversation about determining volume, weight, height- they even asked for a ruler. One student who usually is quite a challenge asked how many bags of jelly beans I used. I told him it was an excellent question but I wouldn’t answer it. I also used the Scholastic Scavenger Hunt which the students also enjoyed. I randomly chose one winner from each homeroom from the correct answers.
We held a K-2 Literacy focused Family Night on Wednesday evening and the surprise guest for the evening was Clifford the Big Red Dog. The younger children wanted to hug and have their picture taken with Clifford. Our Principal’s husband was very happy that I’d asked him to volunteer for this position. Later in the week I recruited an 8th grade student to “be” Clifford as we visited two classrooms, again, he was loved by all.
Our three day fair made for very long days before, during and after. Our students are dismissed at 3:00 but I kept the Fair open until 4:00 so parents and caregivers could come in to shop. This was an excellent way for me to meet parents I may not otherwise. I was able to recommend books for their students. I propped the library door open so people walking by could easily see inside and I could invite them in. I’d stand in the doorway between classes and because the library is in a main hallway everyone passes by at some time during their day. I was pleasantly surprised by how many students gave me hugs as they went by, not something that had happened much before.
I made my own Thank You gifts which consisted of a scented candle wrapped in tissue paper and placed inside colorful bags. I used the Thank You card templates that were included in the Chairperson Toolkit. I gave gifts to the parent volunteers, the Title teacher who helped on the register and another staff member who took the time to help a student count out all of his $10.00 that was in coins.
The resources within the Toolkit were very helpful and I found the online videos more helpful than the in person workshop that I attended. My Scholastic consultant was very friendly and helpful.
The week before the fair, I showed all of the students the preview videos. I printed the coloring pages and word search puzzles to help create excitement for the upcoming event.
Having staff and parents say the library and Book Fair has never looked as good and being thanked by students for having the Book Fair made all of the hard work worth it. Anytime students are excited about reading is a good time!
What I’d do differently next time-
- Recruit more volunteers- I’d asked four and two of them didn’t show up.
- Find another way to display the posters- they fell down every night and had to be re-taped to the wall. I might take pictures and display the pictures instead of the actual posters.
- Put out less of the “extra” items. I didn’t display everything but next time I’d put out less of the ones that I did. I found an empty package hidden behind some books and was told by a staff member that a student was said to be selling items that he hadn’t paid for himself.
- Have a more prominent location for the Value Items display – I put them on their own table but they were near the back with the Cookbooks.
- Have discussions about money prior to the Fair- Many of our students had no real concept of money. So to them an item marked $5.99 would only cost them $5.00. And tax was a completely foreign concept to them.
- Find ways to get the staff more involved.
What book fair advice can you share with the Elementary Librarian readers? Let us know in the comments!