Shared Success: The Formula for Successful Book Fairs

By Lynn Reynolds, Librarian at Coles Ferry Elementary School in Lebanon, TN

Lynn Reynolds After three years of coordinating her school Book Fairs, Lynn shares her formula for success: organization, pre-promotion and enthusiastic volunteers.

Organize, Organize, Organize
“Before my Reading Rain Forest Book Fair last fall, I evaluated the things I thought worked well and those that didn’t work so well during previous Fairs – I tried to address every detail in advance. My August Book Fair is one of the earliest of the season, so I started gearing up over the summer.”

“During the first week of school, I recruited a team of gung-ho parent volunteers, who proved to be instrumental in our success. Because it was the beginning of the school season, all the parents were fresh and eager to be involved. By having the Fair early, I ensure my school event is one they’ll sign up for.”

“Our decorating committee – three dedicated women – also started planning during the summer break, brainstorming ideas for decorations to complement our Fair’s theme. I tell them what I have in mind, and they always amaze me with their creativity. I think they’ll never outdo themselves, but every year they take it to the next level. Their decorations are always phenomenal.”

Promotion is the Key
Reynolds was able to generate enthusiasm and a large turnout through a series of promotions, including Booktalks, intercom announcements, notes to parents, and costume character appearances. Students also wore sandwich boards advertising the event.

Booktalks were a big part of the promotion. Reynolds asked her Scholastic sales consultant to forward a few titles– at least one from each grade level – prior to the start of classes.

“I read the books, talk about them, and tell students the same titles will be available at the next Book Fair. I’ve found that if you talk about the books, kids will want to buy them.”

On the Book Fair’s opening day, usually the Friday preceding the Fair, the school hosts an assembly, featuring a promotional skit performed by Reynolds, parent volunteers, and students. The assembly also features a Scholastic costume character, and the kids themselves often wear costumes.

“This year, one of my students dressed up like Junie B. Jones to promote the title of that book. She really stole the show,” said Reynolds.

A Book for Every Student
Parent volunteers worked hard to line up sponsors for the Fair. The fund-raising effort drew enough donations to ensure that every student received a book. At the close of the fair, a parent volunteer took a group photo of the kids, holding their books, and the photo was sent along with a note to the Fair’s sponsors, thanking them for their support. A reporter from the local newspaper usually attends the event.

Reynolds emphasized the importance of planning and outside support.

“The difference between a successful Fair and an unsuccessful one comes down to four elements – organization, promotion, community support and volunteers. You need to focus on all four to make your Fair a success.”
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