Usher in Your New Year with a New Theme and New Tools

By Sarah Svarda, librarian, Discovery School, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

This spring there is going to be a party, and it’s going to be at your school. Are you ready to rock the Book Fair Fiesta? The spring theme lends itself to so much excitement for your children, families, teachers, and your community. This month I’m giving you an inside look at our Book Fair brainstorming session. We only have one rule in our initial meeting: Think big! Here are a few exciting ideas to share with you.
Check out Sarah’s Pinterest board for more pinspiration!

Create memorable Family Events. Our team came up with a host of fun event themes:
  1. Me O’ Mayan Monday. Mayans are credited with creating the first chocolate beverage. Team up with a local coffee shop to serve hot cocoa for breakfast the Monday of of your Book Fair on Monday, and top it off with toppings at a hot cocoa bar!

  2. Taco Tuesday or Tostito Tuesday. Offer a free taco bar for your evening shoppers! We plan to ask our local theater to donate nacho chip containers that we will load up with chips and topping. We will also serve tacos from our homemade Taco Taxi. Advertise this event by dressing up students in sandwich boards that read, “Nacho ordinary Book Fair” and “Taco ‘Bout Books!” Have students wave to cars outside your school the day of the event.

  3. Western Wednesday. Serve a Tex-Mex breakfast featuring breakfast burritos for your morning shoppers.

  4. Friday Night with Fathers. This year our movie night will be our event with fathers. This gives dads an opportunity to enjoy a night with their kids to an event while moms stay home and take a break. We’re asking our local Boy Scout troop to sell hot dogs, chips, and desserts as a service project at the event. Our PTA, which sponsors our movie night, will provide popcorn and water for all of the attendees. We’ll show a G-rated movie such as The Three Caballeros or Beverly Hills Chihuhua 3: Viva La Fiesta!

  5. Super Saturday Cultural Fiesta. This year we’ll celebrate our many cultures at our Saturday event. We’ll invite representatives from our local children’s museum, our heritage center, families, our local university, and our community to share their cultures with our children. Students will receive a passport when they come to the event, and they will learn about various cultures at each station in our cafeteria. Student passports will be stamped at each stop after they learn about the music, land, dress, customs, and celebrations of each country.
What’s New for You?

Be sure your parents download the free Book Fair App, available for iPhone® or Android™ mobile devices. It allows users to scan the cover of any book or barcode to display video trailers, podcasts, reading levels, summaries, and more for every title at your Book Fair. I am very excited about the booktalk feature. When parents buy books online using the app, the proceeds go toward your Fair totals. The app is expected to be available this spring for iPads® as well. I plan to borrow our school iPad cart and educate each parent about how to use the app, which even allows users to create their own wish lists. Be sure to have signage at your Book Fair encouraging your parents to try out this helpful new tool.

Also, starting in February, be sure to check out the new Book Fair Planner in your Chairperson’s Toolkit. The planner not only will include a great new format, but it also will allow you to set your Book Fair goals and choose Scholastic activities that will help you achieve your goals. It also will provide a task checklist to help you stay on track throughout the Book Fair process.
Decorate in grande style. Try some of these great decorating tips:

  1. Display a Fiesta Fun Wheel at your cash register. Allow random buyers to spin the wheel for a chance to win books or prizes that tie in with the theme.

  2. Include a photo booth. Display a photo booth with various themed props. Keep your photo booth close to the checkout, and take a picture of your buyers with their favorite titles. Display the photos as advertisements for favorite books.

  3. Let shoppers take a siesta. Bring hammocks that hang on their own racks. Create signage that says, “Fiesta, good books, and siesta!” Invite students to sit in the hammocks one at a time to read their books.

  4. Hang or display jalapeño light strands.

  5. Cover tables with Mexican blankets.

  6. Set up teacher wish boxes in rows at the cash registers. Shoppers will pass the wish boxes when they are in the checkout line. Give each teacher a template to clip on the top of the wish box that each class can decorate to help to distinguish each teacher’s box.

  7. Sell gum and peppermint patties at the cash register. Use the proceeds go to All for Books™.

  8. Design a cactus pull. Let pull a lollipop from the cactus in exchange for a small donation. All proceeds from the cactus pull benefit your All For Books drive.

  9. Display your Fair goal for your families to see throughout the week using the Loco Nacho Challenge. Add nachos and toppings with amounts to your “nacho plate” so students and parents can see you progressing toward your goal.
Get students involved. Tap into your students’ energy using these great ideas:

  1. Have students create family trees to display on a Family Night.

  2. Ask Student or Junior Crew members to design buttons. Sell them the week before the Fair to generate excitement. All proceeds can benefit your All For Books drive.

  3. Let Crew members create “Shave the Date” flyers to send home. Peel back the mustache to display the Book Fair dates and activities.

  4. Count Hot Tamales to win a book. Display a jar of Hot Tamales® brand candy in your library the week before the Book Fair. Create a sign that says, “Hot reads coming soon!” Have your kids guess how many Hot Tamales are in the jar, and reward the closest estimates with coupons to buy a free book at your Book Fair. Name the winners on the morning announcements.

  5. Create stickers as reminders. Send students home wearing stickers that say something like, “I mustache you to come to our Tostito Tuesday event tonight!” to remind parents of the Family Event that night.

Encourage your principal to meet the challenge if your Book Fair goal is met. Challenge your principal to one of the following if your goal is met:

  1. Salsa dance in full costume with the assistant principal at a post-Fair rally.

  2. Play donkey polo pitting your faculty against students.

  3. Play a basketball game with teachers against students.

  4. Have a nacho-eating contest. Have students create plates of nachos that the principal and assistant principal must eat with their hands behind their backs. For more fun, make it a timed challenge.

Sarah Svarda works as the head librarian at Discovery School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., a winner in 2012 of the National Blue Ribbon Award. She has five years of classroom experience as a third-grade teacher and served nine years as a media specialist. She earned her undergraduate degree in multidisciplinary studies (grades 1 to 8) and master’s degree in instructional leadership, both from Tennessee Technological University. An accomplished Book Fair chairperson, Sarah was named the Scholastic Book Fairs® National Elementary School Contest first-place winner in 2006 (Read, White and Blue), 2007 (Reading Rain Forest) and 2010 (Book Fair Diner). She also was a second-place winner in 2008 (Book Fair Safari). Sarah shares her professional insight about reading, writing, and her favorite children’s books on her blog,
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