A local elementary school, where I taught for about 17 years, is holding its biannual Scholastic Book Fair. I have always been impressed with the following elements which made the Book Fair something special:
1. The PTA, in coordination with literacy coaches, special needs teachers, family specialist, and others, made sure that all low income kids received a free book. If I had a pull-out group with mixed income levels, all the kids would get a book if I were unable to distribute them individually or needed the books for a group lesson. The beauty of these free books is obvious; the people selecting the books are able to ensure that the books are a good choice for the kids.
2. Teachers are encouraged to create a wish list of books so that families can donate books to a class. Currently, each teacher’s photo is taped to a basket with the books already selected. It is then easy for someone to choose a gift book from a wide range of prices and topics. It’s a great way for families to make a lasting contribution to their school.
3. The school coordinates the book fairs with an evening of larger, free community events, such as this week’s ice cream social. The atmosphere is humming with excitement and it’s obvious that the school’s diverse population is well-represented.
4. Although Scholastic’s well-priced books are on sale, the book fair is brimming with donations of books available inexpensively to kids and adults alike. Typically, the last day is a “fill the bag with books” for a very low price. The school collects gently used books all year for these occasions.
The effort to make this an inclusive and community-building event is notable. It’s now possible to shop online for a Scholastic Book Fair, as well as preview new books through Booktalks (see image below), with a short review of the book and suggested grade level. As easy as it is to purchase from home, I’m glad so many folks are enjoying the Book Fair in person!