Wow. Just, wow. Even though it's been more than a week since the parent event, I've still been in book fair mode all week wrapping up the paperwork and distributing ordered books, and I still can't quite believe what happened. I want to pinch myself.
Not only did everything magically come together at the last moment for the parent night event, the event was an unqualified success. Everyone had a fantastic time, and the kids are STILL talking about the book fair, asking if they can still buy books (which I regretfully have to say no to). The fair and the parent night event came together despite my being sick and having no voice, despite being uncertain of if and when I would have volunteers, despite the disruption of standardized testing - it all worked.
Thursday morning dawned with my voice slightly returned, and fifth graders coming down to purchase books. We'd managed to scrounge up two more tables in preparation for the parent night, and so as soon as students were gone, I began rearranging the entire fair. My desk got cleared to hold excess books, and a heavy wooden table got put up against it (my desk is really high) to serve as the cashier's table. Next, I moved the long row of tables in the back so that they didn't spill into the narrow alcove, but allowed instead for easy browsing. Another long table got moved into the hallway opposite the stairs, and one of my two round tables got put outside as well, at the bottom of the stairs.
As soon as dismissal occurred at 2:30, I got to work in earnest. Each table was temporarily cleared to put down colorful plastic tablecloths from iParty. I then began to rearrange books by rough grade/interest level - YA in the back, chapter books on one table, picture books outside, and miscellaneous on the round table by the door. Next, I dashed up to the computer lab to print out new price tags (my handwritten ones had taken a beating), to print "last book - please don't take me" notices to attach to popular books, a form for books that needed to be reordered, and signs for different cases saying "YOUNG ADULT FICTION," "CHAPTER BOOKS," and "LIBROS EN ESPANOL." I also took this opportunity to take all the books out of the closet so that every copy was on display or stacked on my table, something I hadn't been able to do earlier.
It would have been overwhelming and stressful to manage on my own, but thankfully parent and community volunteers began to materialize one by one, and by 4 p.m. the library was filled with people hard at work. While they dealt with the book displays, cutting papers, and sticking price tags on cases, I set up the stations - food in the cafeteria, a candy estimation/author matching game, the photo booth (inspiration from the fabulous Cari Young, who found it on Pinterest), and our face-painter, Ione, who did a phenomenal job.
And suddenly, there were people. An endless stream of people. I didn't get a chance to eat (a kind parent made me a plate) or sit because I was kept busy processing orders until the very last moment, when my principal finally had to drag me away from the table after first telling me to take a deep breath. I got away just in time to see the fashion show of book characters who had come dressed up, with such illustrious visitors as Ramona Quimby, Rue, Katniss Everdeen, Frankie Stein, and a beautiful purple fairy princess.
By the time the night was over, we had raised over $2000. Two. Thousand. Dollars. This translates into something like $1140 in Scholastic dollars, which is simply amazing. Astounding. I nearly cried when I told the Scholastic consultant how much we'd earned - she said that the last book fair, held in 2009, raised a mere $300.
This money is going to have profound implications for the Nathan Hale School Library. I've only got a month left at school, but if a revamped non-fiction collection is my legacy to the school, I will be extraordinarily proud. Knowing that I have helped to make a difference, and seeing the sheer delight on my students' faces as they got their books - those are the two priceless things that made this whole crazy endeavor worthwhile.
My name is Ms. Bery. I am a PK-8 library media specialist in the Boston area. In addition to being a certified school librarian, I am also certified in instructional technology, and have a strong interest in exploring and integrating technology in new and exciting ways in the classroom.
I am also a 2016 PBS LearningMedia Local Digital Innovator, and a 2015 recipient of the Massachusetts School Library Association's President's Award.
Check out the Sandbox for apps and websites I've found useful in supporting student learning and creativity. I also review children's, middle grade, and young adult books on Instagram.
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