30 Book Fair Tips for School Librarians

Hi friends!

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!

Book Fair Tips

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)Book Fair Display Board
  3. 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!)Scholastic Book Fair
  4. 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.Scholastic Book Fair posters
  5. 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.
  6. Change: Make sure you have plenty of coin change and dollar bills before the fair begins.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.)
  13. 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. Scholastic book fair wish list
  14. 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!
  15. 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).
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Fight germs. Set out hand sanitizer for you and your volunteers to use. You’ll be handling lots of germ-y money!
  21. Shopping Bags. Scholastic provides shopping bags free of charge. If you don’t have enough, ask for more with your restock order.
  22. Sandwich Bags. Buy a big box of sandwich sized zip-loc bags so that you can put students’ change and receipts in there.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. Balloons. Add helium balloons to the display stands to create a festive atmosphere and increase sales.
  26. 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.
  27. 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!Scholastic Cash Drawer
  28. 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.
  29. 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!)Book Fair Tired
  30. 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!)

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    1. Love these tips! My only issue with the teacher wish boxes is that often times, the books the kids are looking for to buy themselves are sitting in the teacher boxes and don’t get purchased. When I explained to teachers how many books it takes off the shelves, they were more than willing to fill out the slips.

      1. I only let teachers put 5 books in their box, and they can refill if books get purchased so not too much is sitting in the boxes unpurchased. Also, if a book is gone that I know a kid wants I’ll pull it out of a teacher’s box and refill the teacher’s box if/when my restock order comes in.

      2. If there is a book that is a last copy sitting in a teacher’s box, I take that book out (from all the teacher boxes) and write a “re-order only” slip for that book and put it in the teacher’s bin. If everything else is bought then the teachers re-order list is still there to order from.

    2. I do the same as Laura, take the book out of the teachers’ box if a student wishes to purchase it. I also do a preview day with every class on the first day. No buying allowed. I tell the kids its the most important day because not everyone can purchase a book , so
      they need to let me know which books they want me to purchase for our library for them to borrow. They LOVE knowing their opinions are valued and keeps them more on task.

    3. I love Teacher’s Wishlists! I have a stack (on a table with a star with the teacher’s name) instead of the baskets. This year I had a student shuffle all the books together so I didn’t know which teacher chose which books. I will try the baskets next time for sure!
      Also if I have very limited copies I will check teachers piles and steal the book then write the title (of the stolen book) on a reorder list for the teacher’s basket if a parent wants to order it and surprise the teacher later.

      How do we get the shopping bags from Scholastic? This is the first time I am hearing about them.

      1. The plastic bags come in the set up or cashier’s box. They never send enough and always say they can’t send more. My volunteers bring more from home. Last year my chair bought 500 bags at a low price (or if her own pocket) we we wouldn’t have to worry about bags anymore. Love her!

        1. Our local grocery stores are always happy to help us out with stacks of bags-we just give them a heads up ahead of time.

        2. Since we all are trying to keep our environment in mind and not loading our landfills with plastic bags…… I know we should be recycling…..but that doesn’t always happen. Anyway, if a student brought a reusable bag from home to use at the book fair, maybe they could have their name in a special drawing for a free book.

    4. This is a great set of suggestions! My next book fair will be in January, and will use some of these ideas I had never considered! I like the idea of using iPads when the students preview – I will have to try that. Thank you for sharing!

    5. GREAT tips!!! I especially appreciated #12, #26, & #27 — except for feeling a little silly for not having thought of these before! Doh! I have a tip for others. I made a QR code for our online fair and put it on posters, bookmarks, flyers, etc. Families can scan it to go directly to the site. While the amount wasn’t huge, I did quadruple the sales I’d had in the past. Many students told me they browsed the site as a preview.

    6. We put our registers on a table that is up on bed risers. Height is much better for our backs.
      I cut out each item from flyer and tape it on index card and tape to the top shelf directly over the book.
      I also take a few flyers and write book location on each book with a sharpie.

    7. Great ideas!! Here’s one more. I have eight, huge, round tables in my library, so I bought eight, nice, black, fabric tablecloths for my book fairs. Why?? 1) Everything Scholastic sends in the decor kit pops against black. 2) It helps our book fair “mess” compliment my regular library decor, 3) I can have the tables all set up, decorated, and ready to load with books — before the fair arrives on delivery day. The tablecloths are easy to launder and hang for the next fair. Hope this tip helps someone else!

    8. I am a Scholastic Book Fair Field Rep and I just have to chime in how much I love your ideas! Thanks so much for putting all of your ideas down to share with and inspire others! <3

    9. I use ziplock bags and price point the school supplies so if someone has 65 cents they can focus on the items they can afford. This has been a huge help it the little ones. (And my big ones) I keep all of the school supplies behind the register and pull as needed.
      I also raffle off the posters. Whoever donates their extra change to All For books, they put a ticket in to whichever poster they want to try and win. Have added 100’s to donations. It all adds up.

    10. I ask teachers to let me know any students in each class who did not get to buy anything at the fair. The week following the fair I put those students names in a box and draw a name from each class to win one of the posters.

    11. Best way to raise fund for All for Books and generate interest for the Book Fair….create a sucker tree, purchase a large bag of Dum-Dum suckers (Sam’s Club sells a 500 count for $12.78), and sell for 25 cents each. We are a small rural school and we easily sell enough suckers to raise between $100 & $175 dollars worth of suckers. If your fair is close to Christmas, check for Christmas Dum-Dum sucker flavors….my kids loved having new flavors to try. Even some of my HS students popped over to the book fair just to buy suckers when they came with their younger siblings.

      My PK-8th grade kids love them since sometimes they have only enough money to buy a sucker after purchasing their books and posters. During Grandparents week we will have some grandparent donate money to the sucker tree to so we can use some of them as prizes for the class scavenger hunt.

      It is a win-win since it help our students use their change, using those funds to surprise classrooms with books, and Scholastic doubles amount to donate to charity.

    12. These are terrific ideas – we do some of them but I absolutely love the idea of parents being able to buy gift certificates for teachers – brilliant!! The poster raffle idea is also great! Thank you so much!

    13. I numbered each side of the case and gave each row a letter. This way when the kids need a location for their wishlist, it’s much easier! Since this was the first year I did it I explained it to the younger kids and checked each of their wishlist had the correct location. Makes it much easier for parents, kids, and teachers to find the books!

    14. Love your ideas and I do almost all of them myself. In our area Scholastic has done away with the plastic shopping bags. So I just recycle what plastic grocery bags I have at home. I do the Teacher Wish Baskets, too. Our parents love the ease of just picking out a book or two. I did have one dad who purchased all the books in the basket. What a Blessing!!! Whatever books that are left after the book fair I just purchase with Scholastic Dollars. That way the children get to enjoy the books in their classroom library.

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