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Book Fair Highlights
Hard work & nostalgia reigned for the week
I recently unlocked an exciting achievement in School Librarianhood… that’s right, I hosted a Scholastic book fair at our school! It was a ton of work, even with the wonderful parent volunteers I had helping out all week. Today’s newsletter will feature a few of my notes, highlights, and general nostalgia, along with a handful of memes because apparently book fairs are an oddly universal theme for millennial/xennials, and I am all about it.
There’s just something so pure about showing up to school with a wallet or baggie full of change and allowance money (or an eWallet nowadays), and getting to shop for books and goodies. I will say that eWallet is a pretty genius upgrade that Scholastic has implemented where parents can add money to a digital wallet for their kids. Each day I would print out the bar codes and kids could shop with their account. Much easier than counting out change with long lines or worse, losing a ziploc bag of money with no name on it (sadly this did happen!). The parents who volunteered loved the vibe of being part of the book fair; many of them remembering their own childhood book fair memories.
I didn’t intend for this newsletter to serve as a review of my experience with Scholastic, but I will say, I was really impressed with how organized their whole system is. Setup was a lot of work, but not nearly as much work as it could have been if many of the books didn’t arrive in shipping containers that open up and become your bookshelves, prefilled with books! Everything is colorful and welcoming and it really transformed the room into a joy-filled little bookshop for the week.
I had one parent actually get a little spicy about all the chotchkies that Scholastic sells alongside the books. My amazing parent volunteers and I did our best to direct the kids toward buying a book first, but man, the pull is strong to those journals, gumball machine erasers and pom-pom pens. What can I say. Sometimes a kid just needs to buy a calculator that looks like a chocolate bar. And I can remember how much I loved my own magnetic tri-fold journal with pen inside that I bought back in the day. Overall, the kids did buy a lot of books, despite all the other temptations, but of course you win some and you lose some. 🤷🏼♀️
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Logistics and personal nostalgia aside, I wanted to share a few highlights from our book fair.
Since we hosted the fair inside the library; there was understandably a little confusion. I did some covert checking-in-and-out of books behind the scenes for kids who really needed a library book, but I loved seeing one kid, wide-eyed with wonder, marvel after buying books, “Do we get to keep these?”
Our book fair coincided with the release of the newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, and on pub day, we got a fresh box delivered with 40 copies of it! Say what you may about the DOAWK books, but my stance is if they get kids reading, I’m all about it. When I doled them out to the few who had pre-ordered it on the first day of the fair, and announced the new books’ arrival to other shoppers, I felt like Santa Claus. It was so fun to see their excitement. (I had to buy my son a copy, too).
On a related note, I rarely get to connect with parents in my job, but I got to have a conversation with one mom where I shared my thoughts about the value of graphic novels (I did some research about this for a class which confirmed my stance that they do have value and can benefit young readers in terms of literacy and love of reading).
This is more book fair adjacent, but I met a mom who was volunteering at the fair who wrote and self-published some adorable books with her daughter. It was so fun to talk books and publishing with her.
And finally, the most special moments were of course seeing students connecting with books. Our school has a diverse population and it was nice to see a good amount of cultural diversity in Scholastic’s collection. When a 6th grade girl noticed the book on the shelf called Bhai for Now, she couldn’t believe there was a book characters who looked similar to her on the cover! She’d never seen any before and immediately bought that one. There were quite a few historical fiction books getting picked up too. One day, two friends— one with a German background and one with a Jewish background— both picked up copies of a book to read called Nazi Saboteurs, because they wanted to read it together. Books are powerful!
Here’s my biggest takeaway: book fairs get kids excited about reading, and I’m on board with anything that does that. Nostalgia for the grown-ups is a fun bonus.
Some housekeeping… you may have noticed there is a brand new addition to my Substack publication: the Young at Heart subscriber chat.
This is a conversation space in the Substack app that I set up exclusively for my subscribers — kind of like a group chat or live hangout. I’ll post short prompts, thoughts, and updates that come my way, and you can jump into the discussion.
To join our chat, you’ll need to download the Substack app (messages are sent via the app, not email). Turn on push notifications so you don’t miss a chance to join conversation as it happens. Android chat is coming soon.
All books linked in this post are from Bookshop.org. I keep all my faves in my Bookshop.org shop and when you shop from my links/shop, you support both me and independent bookstores. It’s a win-win, so thank you!