Thanks to veteran teacher now first year SLMC, Amber Crotts, for this fun post. Amber said that just writing this post was a helpful reflection that will help her set up her spring fair. I think we all remember our "first time"....
Kudos to those who are veteran Book Fair Chairpersons and those who can organize all those boxes/cases by yourself. (I need to meet with you sometime to grab a few pointers!) I must admit, when I arrived bright and early on my shipment day, I became a little apprehensive when I met my delivery guy face to face and saw all those boxes and cases. My first thought was, “Oh My Goodness! What on Earth have I got myself into?” I knew I still had to teach classes that day, but thankfully I had help coming in. My delivery guy was awesome, and he patiently answered my zillion questions, especially when he found out this was my first fair and he could see the puzzlement I had on my face. I had a few ideas on how I wanted to organize, but I am one of those people that I need to take a little while to process before I start jumping in, especially when I realized we received more books than ordered (no problem, just more time to think and plan. “I can do this”—my motto was in full drive.
After classes were finished, I had a few volunteers who helped tremendously with making my ideas work. I can’t thank them enough for their patience because I was very overwhelmed, not making a lot of sense, and we moved and shoved so many tables and changed so many things around. However I was told “this is my show” and I needed to make it how I wanted it. Finally, we created it into a beautiful enchanted forest that I was very proud of. I couldn’t wait for the teachers and students to come into the fair.
One of the main things I have learned from this experience is not being afraid to ask for help. I think being in a middle school classroom for so long, I was used to being independent and making things work on my own. However, being in a library setting it is different. You must ask for help because you cannot do everything on your own. It is okay to ask for help, and at times, I struggle with this, yet there are so many people out there that are willing to help… if you ask! I went to the PTSO and they provided yummy snacks for my teachers during our Teacher Preview, which was a huge success. They helped me decorate and reach out to parents to volunteer. This allowed me to meet with students during regular Enrichment time and the volunteers ran the Book Fair. I asked about having Lunch for Loved Ones, and planned with our phenomenal Administrator, Ashley Lemley, who is a Rockstar herself, and our super Cafeteria Manager, Patrick Coppley. With their help, we were able to provide 2 different days of Lunch with Loved Ones, which had families visiting after they had lunch. I felt like our school community was able to come together during our Book Fair Week to take part in helping make our fair successful.
Another key part that helped with my Book Fair was planning early. Since this was my first fair, I started checking into the Book Fair once I got my first contact email. I started participating in Webinars and those pre-recorded videos. This sure helped a newbie like me with zero experience have somewhat of an idea as to what to expect for my first fair. I loved the ideas on the Scholastic Book Fair Facebook Page and I think I contacted my Rep a hundred times; sometimes I emailed her ten times a day asking questions. I am now not afraid to ask questions, especially if there is something I am unsure about. I learned how important that is when being in the library, that’s for sure!
Throughout this experience, the most important part I have learned is trying to be calm and just enjoy the fair. Even though it is hard work, seeing the students’ faces when they come into the fair is the most rewarding experience ever! The part that will always stick with me is when we opened to the students on the first day, and I had this little girl come into the fair. She was jumping up and down with excitement and told me this was her favorite part about school because she could buy a book.
Just being able to see the students happy because they are being surrounded by books was so powerful… well, at first it was books, then closer to the end of the fair it was the “stuff” (that’s what I call the miscellaneous items –not the books–in a silly voice to the students). I did have one student walk in and say this was a “really neat yard sale!” Oh goodness, the funny things you hear when students walk in. Just being surrounded by students and trying to instill a passion for reading, being able to recommend book choices that will hopefully encourage them to read on their own, is part of the reason why I enjoy the book fair so much. It has definitely been a learning experience that I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in and I am already planning ahead for the spring fair. As always, this is the BEST job ever!!
PS: I didn’t want to bore everyone with pictures, but here is a folder that has some pictures of the fair. We had a Dress Up Week and one day we had “Enchanted Forest Day” where students dressed up like a creature that would be in our enchanted forest. There are pictures from that day. Some of the costumes were absolutely amazing and some were even home-made costumes!!
Side Notes: The large unicorn is a 7ft. Sprinkler, it shoots water out of its horn. She will be transformed into “Jingles the Unicorn” during Christmas in our library. The Unicorn that looks like a carousel was made by my brother, Chase Hanes. I recruited my mom, Marlene Hanes, to help make a lot of the decorations. Sadly, I didn’t get the creativity/artistic gene, it skipped me and went to Chase, lol! 😉
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