Shared Success: Love of Books Trumps Slow Economy

By Joy Pirino, Parent Volunteer at Shenandoah Elementary in Orlando, Florida

Linda Martin We opened our Book Fair on Oct. 6, 2008, the week the stock market took its biggest plunge since the great depression. With only four weeks to set up our Fair and the economy in a tail spin I thought this would surely be our lowest profiting Book Fair. But to my surprise parents came out in droves to support our school’s Family Reading Night.

While parents discussed the latest financial upheaval, kids rushed from bookcase to bookcase clamoring for the perfect book. It did not take long for the kids' excitement to spill over to parents and quickly their discussions about the economy faded into the sea of books.

For the first time we combined our Book Fair with our fall PTA general meeting. We offered pizza and drinks to families as well as a Read Aloud room where teachers volunteered to read to students while the meeting was in session.

Being sensitive to many families tightened budgets, we also organized a book swap area where kids could bring in their own books to swap out for other used books. We knew the book swap idea could put a dent in our Book Fair sales, but our main goal was to make sure that all kids had a chance to bring home books to read. Ultimately, it did not hurt our book sales – most kids just swapped books AND bought several books at the Fair!

During the week, classes visited the Book Fair giving children a chance to touch, read, share, and painstakingly decide on their book selections. The State Award books were a huge hit this year, all thanks to our creative Media Specialist who can up with an idea to offer a plastic book charm to each student who read one. We sold out of all our State Award books the first day and had to place a quick reorder to have them available for our Family Event. As the week progressed kids were bringing in bags of change from their piggy banks in order to purchase just one more book.

I am still not sure how we managed to earn a profit higher than our previous two Book Fairs. Maybe it has something to do with parents, even in a time of great stress and financial hardship, knowing the importance of reading to their children’s education. Or maybe shoppers were motivated to purchase by the calming effect a room full of books gave them in the midst of a chaotic world.

Whatever the reason, I feel fortunate to have been a part of the book fever that spread over our school and a smile spreads to my face each time I see a child intently reading and turning those pages!
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