By Sarah Svarda, Book Fair Chairperson and Librarian at Central Magnet School in Murfreesboro, TN
No, I’m not talking about the cruise it would be nice to take this summer; I’m talking about getting your teachers on board for your Book Fair! Your teachers should be your biggest cheerleaders for the Book Fair.
It’s never too early to start planning for next year’s Fair, so I’m going to share a few ways to get your teachers excited and engaged.
1. Host a preview. Allow your teachers to take a Sneak Peek at the Book Fair books before your Fair even arrives! I shared our Online Fair with teachers the week before our in-school Book Fair during our weekly faculty meeting. You can show everyone step-by-step how to create their lists of student picks and their Scholastic Book Fairs Classroom Wish List. Teachers can then ask you any questions they have about preparing their online lists.
I also let teachers know that I will be sharing each of their online lists in an upcoming library class, so students will know how to access their teacher’s picks and wish lists online as well. Best of all, because everything is online and accessible all the time, teachers can set up their lists when it is most convenient for them – a great perk! I tell my teachers they can even do it while they are at home relaxing on the couch and watching TV.
2. Offer a setup incentive. Another great way for teachers to get a first peek at the books that will be available at your Book Fair is to let them help unpack the boxes when they arrive! Just offer Scholastic Dollars to teachers who volunteer to help you set up the Fair. We always set up on the Saturday before Book Fair week. The weekend works well because teachers are off-duty, allowing for fewer distractions. They can just relax, unpack, and shop as they help out.
Not enough time? If your teachers don’t have time to help you set up on the weekend, that’s okay. My library classes are part of the special area rotation. I have each class come to the gym for their library time the week of the Book Fair, and I read a few of my favorite titles with the kids, share the Principal’s Picks, and let the kids preview the Fair. Special area time is also a good opportunity for your teachers to stop by the Book Fair to preview and select books they would love to add to their classroom libraries.
4. Hold a kickoff. We always hold a kickoff assembly the Friday before Book Fair week. It’s a great way to get all of our students and faculty excited about the upcoming Fair. Our Book Fair Student Crew plans all of the activities and games that our students, teachers, and administrators will take part in. In the past, we’ve had teachers compete in relay races, milkshake-drinking contests, game shows, and dress-up competitions. We award all of our teachers and students with Scholastic Dollars to spend at the Fair or with free books bought using Scholastic Dollars.
5. Thank your teachers. When I really want to let our teachers know how much we appreciate all of their patience and flexibility the week of the Book Fair, I feed them! Periodically throughout the year, our PTA will provide breakfasts and lunches for our teachers. Usually, one or two groups of parents will volunteer to bring in food for these events. This year I asked the PTA to provide a breakfast for our teachers on the first day of our Book Fair week. It was a great way to kick-start a week full of fun for them and also show them how much we appreciate them.
6. Reward your teachers. Another way you can show your teachers your appreciation is to give them money to buy books at the Fair using proceeds from All for Books. We raise money with this program in a different way every year. We’ve sold student-designed Book Fair T-shirts and buttons, and organized teacher competitions: “My Teacher for President” and “My Teacher as Principal for the Day” are two examples.
We’ve also hosted a silent auction for baskets of Book Fair-themed goodies. All proceeds go toward All for Books, and then we divide it among our teachers so they can buy books for their classroom libraries. It’s a good idea to collect your All for Books money early during your Fair, so they’ll have plenty of time to buy their books before the Fair ends.
7. Share the results. The Book Fair benefits everyone, so don’t forget to share the results of your Fair with your teachers - especially the number of books that were bought for their classrooms.
With just a few simple strategies, you can make sure your teachers are as excited about the Book Fair as you are. And their excitement will carry over to students and parents. That’s a win-win for everyone!