It is truly by accident that I stumbled upon the power of the book fair, but it all comes back to my librarian, Kristina Holzweiss (@lieberrian), who was named Scholastic Librarian of the Year in 2015. If not for her passion for bringing the most innovative practices for integrating reading and technology, I would not have discovered my own commitment to putting a book in the hand of every child. Before that moment, book fairs were just another part of the librarian’s role.
It started with a poster. An email was sent to the staff inviting them to share a photo of their children and/or of their younger selves reading - that would be made into a R.E.A.D. poster. You know those posters – the ones with famous actors, actresses or celebrities prominently featured on the page and promoting how they enjoy reading, or the obstacle they overcame when reading – my favorite being Denzel Washington’s poster. How exciting! With each photo shared, the librarian displayed the poster outside the library – with a twist. The students and staff had to guess who was featured in the picture. It was an instant hit. Picture after picture was being posted. The students and staff were all abuzz about the pictures and it was good! It was then that I saw the power of rallying around reading. That buzz would die down, until a few years later, but you’ll have to visit me again for that story…
But not everyone has a school leader that places value on the book fair. Maybe he/she still sees it as solely one aspect of the librarian’s role. So what are you to do? There are three Principal Points that you can use to involve your leadership and help him/her to see the power that lies within the book fair!
Principal Point # 1 – Build the Excitement
Passion is contagious; share yours with your building principal. Set a meeting with your building principal – and don’t concern yourself with his/her calendar, just be sure to get on it. The meeting should be set at least three weeks before the book fair. When you meet, have a concise agenda set so that your main point(s) is/are covered in the very beginning of the conversation. The principal is interested in the impact, so don’t be afraid to share the benefits. Identify the resources available in the Chairperson’s Toolkit, and explain how the more children read, the better readers they become.
Principal Point #2 – Book Fair Booktalk
Invite your principal to speak to a class about one of his/her favorite books during the book fair. Let your principal know that you respect his/her busy schedule, but that the children would love to see him/her. Who would disappoint the children? The five minutes spent sharing a book can change your principal’s perception of the book fair forever. Be sure to have several copies of the book on hand – they’ll fly off the shelf.
Principal Point #3 – Give a Book, Share a Book
Provide a book, or a Scholastic Dollar, to your building principal and ask your principal to personally provide that book or Scholastic Dollar to a child shortly before the book fair. Let your principal witness the excitement and gratitude on the child’s face. This two minute deed will make an impact that will last for ages.
You see, only a moment is needed to make a lasting impact. Building momentum and watching that momentum grow is all that you need. Your principal’s small contribution prior to the book fair can lead to big things. It shows that book fairs aren’t just for librarians anymore.
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