It’s been more than 15 years since I’ve shopped the Scholastic Book Fair but my badly worn copy of an Amelia Bedelia book (and the memories of the $1 lip glosses) remind me of simpler times. I can recall the cheering from my classmates as it was announced over the intercom that it was our turn to visit the book fair; we would file in to buy books, posters and those fun, holographic bookmarks that beautifully complemented a new book.
Ultimately as a Scholastic employee, I get to relive certain parts of the Book Fair on a daily basis. I’m surrounded by children’s books and Clifford greets me every morning but last week I had the honor of revisiting an actual Scholastic Book Fair as a volunteer at my niece’s elementary school.
The Book Fair was assembled on the gymnasium stage. Students visited in 30-minute intervals, sitting on the gym floor and waiting anxiously to be called up to the stage in small groups. As a volunteer, I helped students find their desired books, read prices to the younger kids and worked the cash register which typically resulted in talking down some ambitious purchases: “you only have $5 so five books may be one too many” followed by an empathetic frown. What I wasn’t prepared for was the pressure of having to count bags of change! Kids confidently marched to the register with Ziploc bags full of dimes, nickels and pennies, successfully testing my basic math skills and how quickly I could count as others waited impatiently.
I was delighted to watch as kids walked around with clipboards writing their wish lists so they could return later in the week focused and ready to pick up their books. Some students shopped for their siblings, teachers shopped for students who did not have money to spend and other parent volunteers shopped for their kids and themselves! The Dog Man series was a staple amongst older kids and teachers of the older students flocked to the I Survived series, often opting for the boxed sets. The kindergartners flocked to books from the Pete the Cat series and first-graders enjoyed the Moby Shinobi series and licensed books starring popular stars, like JoJo Siwa.
As kids returned to their regularly scheduled days, I got the opportunity to browse and relish over titles that I didn’t know existed like The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, which is now on my back-to-school wish list. Starting my morning with the Scholastic Book Fair definitely lifted my spirits, just as it had as a young student. If you ever have the opportunity to volunteer at a Scholastic Book Fair, you definitely should!