Selecting the theme of a Scholastic Book Fair

Alexandra Wladich  //  May 5, 2016

Selecting the theme of a Scholastic Book Fair

Have you ever wondered who selects the fun themes for the Scholastic Book Fair? I caught up with Bobby Pacheco and Frank Loose on the Scholastic Book Fairs team to find out the details!

How does Book Fairs select each theme for the next school year/season? A number of methods are used. We watch what schools are doing across the country, we entertain ideas from our field sales team members, and we track what is popular and appealing to kids. We keep an active file of ideas and go back to it periodically to pull out the strongest prospects based on seasonality, trends, and opportunities.  All ideas are then measured on their ability to conjure up strong mental imagery immediately upon hearing the concept.  When a thematic idea is presented, we want our customers to immediately be able to visualize how they would decorate and embellish their Fairs with the theme.  If excitement around the theme ignites high levels of excitement with customers and our own team members, we know we have a winner.

Are the themes the same across grade levels or do you differentiate grades? We present one featured theme for elementary school and an age appropriate version of the same theme for middle school.  Schools always have the option to choose any theme they want and we encourage that.  However, more and more schools are using our featured themes because we provide a variety of ideas on how to integrate the theme into all aspects of the Fair.

What is the coolest part about selecting the themes?  The real fun comes in seeing what schools do to bring the themes to life. The creativity never ceases to impress and amaze us. For example, our fall 2015 theme was Monster Book Fair, which proved to be a monster success.  One school turned a large tree outside the school’s entrance into a fun monster by placing two oversized eyeballs in the foliage. A simple yet very clever idea that captured lots of attention and generated lots of fun for kids.

Can you tell us a little about the upcoming “pirate” themed fair? Our fall pirate theme is Bookaneer Book Fair: Where books are the treasure! Schools can decorate their Book Fair entrance to look like a pirate’s ship and the Book Fair environment with treasure map markings, including a large “X” marks the spot. Dressing up like a pirate is a lot of fun and schools will probably have students and faculty alike pretending to be pirates for a day or the whole week of the Fair. Schools can incorporate the theme into their curriculum--but it’s not just about history—pirate studies can be incorporated into geography, literature, science, art, and more. Since Book Fairs are about bringing together families and the community, we have fun family event activities planned like photo ops with pirate props, an in-school treasure hunt, or a gold coin guessing game suggested. 

Do either of you have a favorite theme? All themes that motivate adults to have fun and act like kids again are favorites.  All themes that build real anticipation among kids for Book Fair week are favorites. We have so much fun with themes, and they really do have the power to transform a Book Fair into a special community event.  The best themes are those that take you someplace specific like a pirate ship, a fiesta, under the sea, into space, to a school for monsters, or even camping.  The ideas for Book Fair themes are almost limitless!

Final comments or thoughts?  We’d like to give a special shout-out to all past, present, and future Book Fair volunteers who provide personal time, energy, and talent to make their Book Fairs come alive with a theme. The moments they inspire will live a long, long time in the memories of kids. 

Be sure to follow Scholastic Book Fairs on Instagram to see photos and highlights from fairs across the country:@SchoalsticBookFairs. Tag your photos using #mybookfair.

image via: Dillon Kalkhurst