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Book Fairs as School Fundraisers
Students at our elementary school get excited about the annual Scholastic Book Fair...less so, the parents who are trying to keep tugging hands out of their wallets. Reading is wonderful, but so many of their books are linked to tv shows or products, I'm not sure it's a good thing. Problem is, Scholastic entices the school with discounts/free books, and the fair is a significant fundraiser. So how to make the leap? What's it like with a different company? What about using donating used books or making it a book swap? Please share your experiences & ideas. Thanks, it takes a village : ) -Gabi
Honestly, there are more books then just ones tied to shows and products. Our fair had a huge selection of story books for all ages, as well as science/learning books.
And while I understand the movement against corporate sponsorship, the truth is the schools (all schools!) need the money the fairs generate and getting upset that your child is reading a book tied to a show is counter productive to say the least. The child is READING about the show/product, not just plopped in front of a screen. The child doesn't comprehend any link to the marketing you perceive unless you make a fuss and point it out to them!
Book swaps are fine, if that is your preference. I'm sure your school doesn't mandate participation from you. But please remember that other parents really enjoy the book fair! You might be surprised at how many would frown on the parent who had it removed or changed.
Perhaps your book swap could be a separate event, not held at the same time as the book fair? A parent and Teacher
The school we are at now does a concurrent book sale of gently used books that cost 25 cents -- this is so every child can buy a book - not just the ones who have parents able to buy new ones. Maybe a group of parents can meet with the librarian? Another thing our former school did which I loved was have a parent table of books about reading and how to help kids become great readers. I picked up one of the best books on the subject there. So, in a nutshell, I'd suggest not throwing out the baby with the bath water but maybe change the formula a bit. love to read
The coordinators did an amazing job of making the read-a-thon fun and full of great events. Each year they have had an assembly with a children's author, a kids' poster contest, and a day for kids to bring a blanket and a book. I don't know how much money was raised, but I can tell you that it has definitely at least matched the fundraiser it replaced. If you are interested in learning more, you can email me directly and I can put you in touch with the right people.
We do still have Scholastic on campus, but at least it is now paired with an event purely focused on getting kids reading, as opposed to all the book sales/product promotions you mention. mm_spark
Pros: Better selection of books and the ability to guide the selection (e.g. request specific titles/genres, request minimal or no toys and filler items). This is what really drove our decision, as the principal, parents and teachers were increasingly saddened to see the Scholastic selection have so many commercial tie-ins and questionable literary value.
Hicklebee's is great to work with. Claire Teel runs their fairs and has a wealth of experience in fairs and knowledge of the books.
Cons: Lower profit margin. Their margin varies by the total sales, but is about 20% in cash for a fair selling $4K-10K in books.
No free delivery/pick-up - they take some percentage off the profit if you need this (we have them deliver, but I have been able to drive the returns back in one SUV, given that we have a small, one day fair.) Y No scanners - need to ring up purchases on a register
I have had discussions in past years with Mrs. Dallowayâ€™s about supplying the fair, but at the time they felt even our small fair was too much for them to handle -- maybe things have changed there. Other possible vendors are Mr. Mopps and Books Inc. Sally M.
In addition to being a parent, I am also a school library professional, so I can give two perspectives on this:
Our school has Scholastic Book Fairs twice a year. The kids love it, but many parents dread it. The tchotchkes, the toy books with moving parts, etc. There are very few choices in the Bay Area as far as companies that ''do'' book fairs. Even Scholastic fairs will look different at each school, depending on how much the school traditionally makes. (The more a school sells, the better selection Scholastic will send.) Different schools use money earned through Scholastic in different ways. Some schools, with little parent involvement, use the fundraiser to earn ''credit'' for teacher supplies and class libraries. (And we all know that teachers need this kind of support.) Other schools, like ours, use the funds/credit, solely to buy new library books. This is critical. Many parents did not realize our district had not provided ANY funding for school library books for well over a decade. The book fairs help solve this problem.
Last year our school tried Books Inc. Many parents, myself included, like to support local businesses. In the end, however, as I predicted, the fair made less than half of what the school library usually expects to use toward collection development and was more of a hassle in many ways. We went back to Scholastic this year.
Scholastic cons: As a book professional, I HATE scholastic bindings. As a parent, the Scholastic selection is frustrating with all of the movie and product tie ins. But there are always some very nice books to be found. I have always told my kids they could get one ''candy'' book, but the other book has to have an ''author.''
Scholastic Pros: Scholastic book fairs come all ready to go. There was MUCH more work when another company was tried.
-Affordability. Kids can come away with SOMETHING, erasers OR paperbooks with just a small sandwich bag of change. Independent companies might have a more well-heeled, cooler selection of books, but the hardbacks are expensive. We do teacher wish lists at our school. Parents can find affordable books their teachers have requested for the holidays or end of year thank you gifts.
-A better return. Depending on how your school uses the funds, Scholastic gives the option of credit. Their percentages are better than independents if you wish to take the money raised to fund your school projects, in the library or elsewhere.
If fundraising is your goal, than Scholastic, in our area, seems the way to go. I'll tolerate a few junk kid books (and we know kids love them) if I know I can still find ''quality kid lit'' (subjective, of course) and I know that my kids' school is getting the most benefit it can out of the fundraising aspect of it all.
All that said, my kids' school has a book exchange, too. There are shelves in the office foyer where you can leave used kid lit and exchange it for something new-to-you any time you want. In my work, I see schools doing book exchange events. Great for families who do not have easy access to books!
All in all, whatever it takes to build reading cultures for kids is okay in my book. If you can raise a few more needed dollars for your school, all the better. Anonymous
Hello, Can anyone recommend an alternative to Scholastic Book Club for schools? I'm just wondering if there's one out there that is less commercial and/or features more diversity? Thanks so much. school mom helping with book orders
What do other parents do with the book order forms kids bring home? My first grader wants nearly 2/3rds of the books on the form. Is this an oppurtunity to teach budgeting? A way to encourage literacy? Do I only let him get books HE can read? What??? I'm sure I'll figure this out myself, but I'm curious how others handle it. I was the same way when I was a kid...
First, we made it clear that we would order only books. No software, no little stuffed animals or other toys. Then the kid went through and marked everything they wanted. We looked over it, and occasionally removed something from consideration, like if they ''forgot'' and marked a toy (the toy/book combos were tricky) or if we thought a book wasn't appropriate for them for some reason. Then they had to add up the price of everything that remained chosen (when they were younger, they wrote the list and we helped add with a calculator.) They were usually really surprised at how big that total was. I would then give them an amount I was willing to spend, and they went through and considered their list and subtracted the least desirable items until they got to the amount I would pay.
I felt they learned a lot from this process, about how the cost of many items adds up, and how to think about what you really want when you can't have it all. anne
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