By Audrey Perrott, Copywriter / Editor at Scholastic Book Fairs in Lake Mary, FL
She could be considered the “Dame” of Scholastic Book Fairs at St. Gabriel the Archangel.
Julie Dame has been the media specialist at the kindergarten through eighth grade school for 16 years. But two years ago when Julie took over the Book Fair at her school, most of her school hadn’t even heard of the All for Books program. That changed once she got her hands on it.
She officially starts planning a couple months before the Fair with a dedicated team of volunteers, but in reality, she admits, she’s always planning.
“I feel like I’ve always got my ear to the ground for ideas. I carry a Book Fair notepad so anytime I hear something else a school did, see something on Pinterest, etc., I jot them down so when it comes to the eight weeks out period, I’m ready,” says Julie.
And when it comes to the All for Books program, Julie has every avenue covered—and then some.
They start a week before the Book Fair with a Bucks for Books program, extending the theme into all of their promotions. For their spring 2016 Peace, Love, and Books theme, they asked everyone for a donation and each day they brought one in, they got to wear 60s gear or participate in a 60s themed activity, everything from wearing tie dye clothing and a “Shake Your Hippie” Hula-Hoop contest, to getting extra books, materials, and silent reading time. The money collected buys books from the Fair specifically for each classroom that raised it.
The teachers had their own All for Books fundraiser where each could donate $5 and wear jeans for a week, and they also created a lollipop pull, which generated $300 alone.
One of the biggest incentives to contribute to the All for Books campaign was the kickball challenge reward. On the Friday of Book Fair week, the top two winning homerooms from each grade level competed in a kickball challenge—and the rest of the school got to watch!
In just those two weeks alone, they raised $2,958 dollars in All for Books donations.
Since Julie’s All for Books activities were so successful, she used them again for the fall pirate themed Book Fair, and also offered a pirate add-on day, where students were allowed to dress in pirate attire if they brought in a dollar donation.
The multiple incentives motivate the school, but Julie says that ultimately her school’s success with the All for Books program is a result of making it personal to the students and teachers.
“Whether it’s me or students, we have someone going into each and every classroom talking about the Book Fair and All for Books,” she says.
In the end, the homeroom teachers split the All for Books donations collected—using half of it to buy books for their classrooms, and the other half to buy books for two area schools in need.
“Character formation is a part of our education, and we want to make sure they understand what All for Books is about,” she says. “The books are staying here, but they’re also getting matched by Scholastic. One eighth grader even donated $20 of his own money because he understood that the books it would buy for his classroom wouldn’t just benefit him, but they would benefit other kids—and that’s what it’s all about.”