Book fair tips?

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I have my first ever book fair this week…ah!  I have some seasoned volunteers who are able to help out but I’m still nervous!  

The previous librarian had used Scholastic in the past and had booked this fair already.  I’m not totally thrilled because the PTO-run Scholastic book fairs at one of my former schools always had a lot of junk – literal junk (toys), as well as a lot of junky books.  Also, a lot of the paperback books I got for the library fell apart after a few reads, which was very disappointing. I like the idea of using an independent book store instead of Scholastic but there really aren’t any in my area (compared to Boston where I was before).  Anyway, the kiddos are very excited and all love books and reading so I think it will be fun overall.

I’ve recruited parent volunteers and had 4th graders make posters to hang up around school.  But otherwise, I’m feeling very unprepared!  Do you have any advice to make the book fair run smoothly?  Ideas for setting up?  I’ll take any and all suggestions!

9 Responses to “Book fair tips?”

  1. Kathy

    I just finished my first one Friday!!! I still have my final paper work to due but it is all packed up ready to go. I made my kiddos leave their coats and backpacks in the entry to library(where book fair was held). I also made the anti-sticky finger board I saw on pinterest–the centered school library has a pic of hers posted.
    My biggest tip would be to cook a lot of food this weekend…I was so tired I ate out everyday this week….after skipping lunch everyday! I also did not teach classes during bookfair and everyone got a free week from overdue slips. good luck!

  2. Bibliocat

    We do not put out junky toy stuff…I say it is a book fair not a toy fair. I will put out the bookmarks, pencils, sharpeners… stuff that is about 99 to 1.99. But…they are only allowed to purchase two chachi stuff. And they have to have a permission slip to purchase posters. I push books…Good books…
    I figure if it is in my library… I should have a say of what is offered.
    I use the DVD the week before. For lesson we talk about the authors, and illustrator.
    Any books I get from the Bookfair,,,, I tape the dickens out of them.
    Good luck….

  3. librarianism

    Here are a few things I have figured out over the years:
    1. Having volunteers means everything. Most of the time, their work will be easy, but their presence is priceless. Ask them to be prepared to help kids count money (some will bring bags full of pennies), to help students understand how tax works and estimate what they can afford, and to watch for sneaky hands that might be tempted to take items without paying.
    2. You don’t have to put everything out to sell. If you feel students will be distracted by all the school supplies and toys, don’t put them all out.
    3. Don’t take a lot of books as profit. I always take Scholastic dollars, instead of cash, since you get so much more profit that way. But, I only get books that we need multiple copies of. For example, I know that we won’t always need extra copies of Wimpy Kid, but for now, my students can’t get enough of them. I can add a few Scholastic paperbacks to the collection to help more kids access the book, but if/when the book falls apart, I don’t feel I’ve lost much. Instead, use the credit to order stuff like dry erase boards, stuffed book characters, bean bag chairs, and other things for the library.
    4. Don’t stress too much about the quality of the books kids are buying at the fair. In most cases, the students will outgrow the books in a few years anyway, so they don’t need to last forever.

    Good luck!

  4. mkschoen

    I’ll also echo the comments about not putting out the toys. I did put out pencils and erasers, because I wanted to make sure I had something for the kids who only came in with a dollar or so. I also his away any books I didn’t like/think were appropriate (no Barbie or Disney character books).

    1. Get *lots* of extra change before you start (ask the PTO to front you cash that you will give back at the end of the fair). Singles, and lots of coins (especially pennies).

    2. Cash out every day (if you’re doing this multiple days). It made me really nervous to have that much money as my responsibility and I wanted to make sure everything balanced.

    3. Scholastic will let you do teacher wish lists, and I think they use print outs, but here’s how I did it: the teachers came down early and pull a selection of wish list books for their classrooms. I put their books in bins with their names on them, and hung a sign with “Classroom Wish Lists.” If a parent wanted to buy something for a classroom, they just grabbed the book from the bucket, and I handed them a book plate to put in it. The parent could then drop off whenever they wanted. It seemed easier then me keeping track of everyone’s list, what was purchased, etc.

    4. I took my profit in straight cash, instead of Scholastic Cash. I know you get more money with Scholastic, but I didn’t really want/need supplies from them, and if I got books, I have to deal with the processing, covering, barcoding etc. I’d rather get less money and save time using that money at Follett. (I used the Scholastic money I did have for things like thesauruses and atlases, that I knew I wanted 10 copies of and wouldn’t immediately fall apart with use.)

    5. Is yours in the library? I didn’t have any check out the week of the book fair, but mine was right at the end of school, when I was closing up anyway. I just felt it was too confusing for the little ones to say “well these ones you borrow, but these ones you have to pay for.”

  5. kgreen

    I also do not sell posters or “junk”. Scholastic doesn’t even send it to me!! I use the video and push books.

  6. abby

    I pick and choose the “toy” items I wish to put out. I put the same price novelty item in dollar store containers and label them with prices. Less clutter and I don’t have to look up the price each time. I do sell the posters, but the kids have to have permission first. You get to keep the posters you display, which become great prizes throughout the year. We tag the last copy of every book, so we know when we need to reorder. And my lifesaver tip….after you set up your fair, take a picture of every case and table. If you have a family event, you will now what you need to reorder, and know how to put it back the right way. Good luck and wear comfy shoes :)

  7. Anonymous

    I learned to make myself a to do list so I would not forget what change to get, what notes I need to send and when, what I need to do to advertise, etc. even more important is my list of what financial forms and permission forms I have to fill out for the state/school system. Teachers in my building love my list when they do fund raisers. No one wants to hear from the auditors!

    As for Scholastic dollars I look at their catalog online and make out a wish list before my fair. I use this to determine how much profit I want in Scholastic dollars and the rest I take in cash.
    As for the toys there are some things I only put out during my family event. It goes back in boxes after the parents leave. That way the parents are responsible for deciding if they want to let kids have it.

  8. Jocelyn

    I just discovered your blog! Glad I found you. I’m loving the shelving game and I will be linking to it on my site if that’s OK. You can find my book fair tips here: http://elementarylibrarian.com/book-fair-ideas

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