Shared Success: Student Crew Makes It Happen 

By Judy Salisbury, Librarian at East Valley Middle School in East Helena, MN

Judy Salisbury After hosting more than 30 Book Fairs, Librarian and Book Fair Chairperson Judy Salisbury shares the secrets to her success.

What makes our Book Fairs so successful is the enthusiasm of our Student Crew. The kids really buy into the program – they’re very good at spreading the word, talking to other kids about books, and hanging posters in the hallway.

During the planning process, I encourage the Crew to brainstorm, exchange ideas, and dream. The kids know that I have the final say on whether to implement their suggestions, but this creative process generates great ideas. And because the ideas are theirs, they really take ownership.

To encourage staff participation in the Book Fair, we provide various incentives. Sometimes we offer a free breakfast or ice cream sundaes. In one instance, we gave away 50 different prizes, posters, and gift baskets with books. As a result, our teachers complete their Classroom Wish Lists on time and are excited to attend the Book Fair.

The contests that Scholastic sponsors play a big part in the success of our Fair. The kids put in the extra effort because they are determined to win. In fact, our participation has become sort of a tradition. We keep raising the bar with every Fair in our effort to outdo ourselves.

To generate excitement, we like to hold our own school-wide contests. For example, in the Scholastic Book Fairs Idea Book, there’s something called the locker lottery. We put a lottery ticket in every student’s locker and then hold a drawing and give out prizes. We came up with that contest, and Scholastic thought it was such a good idea, they shared it with other chair people. During one Fair, we held contests that encouraged students to draw a picture of their favorite superhero like Spiderman, or guess a superhero's identify from a partial drawing.

To expand the scope of our Book Fair, we recently partnered with the local Head Start organization, inviting little Head Start buddies to visit our school. Instead of the usual Scholastic Book Fairs “One for Books” program, we changed the name slightly to “Bucks for Books for our Buddies.” To raise money for the program, we encouraged students and families to purchase little hand signs (tracings of the kids’ and the big buddies’ hands) for a dollar apiece. The hand signs were then signed by the purchasers and hung in a big chain around the library.

This year we also partnered for the first time with a local business. We approached the management of a new bank in town, and they agreed to donate $150 for our “Bucks for Books for Buddies” program. The single donation helped us reach the halfway mark of our fundraising goal.

I’m continually amazed by my Student Crew and how they have matured this year. Everyone worked as a team, and they are finally clicking. They now realize that the Book Fair is not merely about raising money for the school; it’s also about helping people in our community. And that’s been very satisfying for them.

The Student Crew program has really helped some of my kids shine. They may not be athletes or into music, but through the Crew program, they have discovered themselves and the value of helping other people.
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