Our Learning Librarians Facebook group members recently shared their best tips for Scholastic book fairs, and I’ve gathered them here to help you out!
- Previews: Spend time before the book fair opens previewing the books with students. Read parts of the books aloud to your classes, share the video, or do book talks on morning announcements.
- School Supplies: Keep the small toy-like items close to the cash register where you can keep an eye on them. Or tape one of each on a tri-fold display board, keeping your inventory of small items out of reach. (photo credit to the Three Ring Library blog.)
- School Supplies: You can flip back the top of the red boxes of school supplies and stack them. Make sure that the heaviest box is on the bottom of the stack. (Thanks for the photo, Sara Elmore!)
- Posters: Display one of each of the posters during the fair. You get to keep the display posters and can use them as library prizes when the book fair is over. Label the display posters by number, and number the poster box dividers by corresponding numbers so that you can find posters quickly when they are purchased.
- Poster Raffle Ideas: Give shoppers a raffle ticket for every $10 spent and raffle all the posters at the end of the fair. Or attach a solo cup to each poster, and students who visit the fair get a raffle ticket to put in a cup to try and win a poster at the end of the book fair. Or customers can earn a raffle ticket for their All for Books donation.
- Change: Make sure you have plenty of coin change and dollar bills before the fair begins.
- Exchanges Only. I make exchanges for defective products, but I don’t let students bring back the book they’ve read and exchange it for a different book, or trade the eraser they’ve used. We are really pressed for time, and I encourage them to choose what they want the first time they come, because they won’t be able to trade it for something different.
- 2 Classes at Once. While one class is waiting to go in the book fair, have them play the item in a jar guessing game that’s typically included in the fair files. Then they switch places with the other class that has been shopping at the book fair.
- Money Sense. Ask students how much money they have before you start scanning items. They may have a dollar in hand and a stack of twenty books. If possible, get older students to help younger students shop.
- Spare Change. Put out the All for Books box from Scholastic and collect spare change to use for the students who are short a few cents. Whatever is left in the box at the end can be added to your fair total as the All for Books donation.
- Video Instructions. Make a video of what you want to tell all the students before they enter the book fair: sales tax, be gentle with the books, etc. Show the video before the students enter, instead of having to repeat yourself over and over.
- Gift Certificates for Teachers. Sell gift certificates that parents can buy for teachers. Put a sign by the cash register advertising that gift certificates are available for purchase. (You can also organize a coin drive before the book fair begins to raise money for teacher books. I blogged about that here.)
- Teacher Wish Baskets. Use dollar store baskets or dish tubs, labeled for each teacher, with the books inside that they’d like to have for their classroom. Parents can shop from these wish baskets, instead of having to take a slip of paper from a wish list and track down the book.
- Thank your volunteers. I have very few volunteers, but I give them book fair gift certificates with my Scholastic dollars and a little themed goodie bag of candy. I’m so thankful for the parents who help us with the book fair! Without them, I would have no restroom breaks!
- Students in Need. Identify students who would love a book but can’t afford it and have them help you with the book fair (straighten books, help young shoppers, wear the Clifford costume). Pay them with a gift certificate to the book fair (purchased with Scholastic dollars or All for Books).
- No jackets or backpacks. Have students leave jackets and backpacks outside the book fair. I explain that it’s too crowded in the book fair for those bulky items. It does reduce the temptation for students to slip an item into a backpack or jacket pocket.
- Restock. When you first unpack the fair, make sure that you have the items on the flyer and in the preview video. Put in a restock order even before the fair opens if you need more of the best sellers.
- Preview with iPads. Use iPads to let students preview the book fair by scanning the QR codes and book covers. The Scholastic book trailers help them to learn more about the books, and they can follow their own interests as they walk around and scan.
- Snap some pics. Take a picture of each case and table with your cell phone when you set up the fair. It will help you re-order when you run out of an item but can’t remember what was there in that empty space. Plus it’s book fair week and you can barely remember your own name.
- Fight germs. Set out hand sanitizer for you and your volunteers to use. You’ll be handling lots of germ-y money!
- Shopping Bags. Scholastic provides shopping bags free of charge. If you don’t have enough, ask for more with your restock order.
- Sandwich Bags. Buy a big box of sandwich sized zip-loc bags so that you can put students’ change and receipts in there.
- Rubber Bands. Have rubber bands on hand so that you can roll up students’ posters. They won’t get bent as much during the school day.
- One Entrance. Set up all the cases in a circle, with your display tables in the middle and only one entrance/exit close to the cash registers.
- Balloons. Add helium balloons to the display stands to create a festive atmosphere and increase sales.
- Price signs. Post signs for common prices ($1.99, $2.99, $3.99, etc.) with sales tax added, so that students (and parents) can easily figure out how much money they’ll need. We laminate ours and use them year after year.
- Cash Drawer. Take the box the cash drawer comes in, turn it upside down with the flap facing you where you open it than set your cash drawer on top of the box. Add your EZ Scan on top of it. The box will add height and the open flap becomes a place for the credit card receipts to lay length wise in that little pocket. This little trick saves time when you are busy, and it’s easier on your back!
- Advertise your fair and your online fair on your school’s website and social media. You’ll find plenty of tools in your toolkit to help you with this.
- Plan ahead for quick and easy evening meals, including some take out. You will be a whole new level of tired at the end of the day. (Thanks for sharing this meme, Julie Hoy!)
- Keep Your Joy! Some items will go missing. Scholastic doesn’t stress about it and neither should you. Enjoy this fun time about reading and books, and don’t let shoplifting concerns distract you from the joy of sharing books with your students. These book fair days will be treasured memories for your students!
If you have book fair tips to add or questions to ask, please share them in the comments! I know that I learned a few new tricks as I wrote this blog post! Happy reading!
(And if you’ve got teaching time with students at your book fair, check out my Book Fair Scavenger Hunt Task Cards!)