Before your fair, make time to SHOW and WATCH the book fair preview video.
Since I have only used Scholastic book fairs, I don't know about other book fair companies' videos (or if they even have videos). That said, the Scholastic videos are very well-done. They are only about 15-minutes in length, which is short enough to keep students' attention and fit into busy class time. They have plenty of color, music, and a variety of video styles (infographic, stop-motion, live action, animated, whiteboard). They usually feature 3-4 short author discussions and 15 or so different books. Some books get full trailers; others get a 30-60 second mention. Either way, these books and authors tend to be popular at the book fair.
The Spring 2012 Scholastic Book Fair video:
Reasons to SHOW the video to students:
- Students get excited about reading. They know the book fair is coming soon, and they are more likely to remember it if they watched the video. Even if they are not planning to purchase anything, students may see a book they are interested in and request it in the library. If we don't have the book, I use my Scholastic dollars to purchase it for the library. As with any book I order by student request, the student who requested it gets to check it out first.
- The students enjoy it. Chances are, they have seen book fair videos in the past and are disappointed when they don't get to watch it.
- Author interviews. Putting a face to a name is always fun, and students like to see that authors look just like "real" people! The authors usually discuss their books, how they got started writing, why they love their genre, and why they like to write. This can be very motivational for budding writers.
Reasons teachers and librarians should WATCH the video, too:
- Watching the video with students will give you insight on what items are likely to be the most popular (listen for the oohs and aahs). Stock up on items you think will be popular a few days before your fair.
- Students often request books they saw in the flyer or video, but they do not always remember the title of the book they want. They'll say "I want the book with the girl's striped stockings on the front cover. It was in the video" or "I want that ghost story from the video." If you took a few minutes to watch the video, you are more likely to know the book they want.
WHEN to show the video:
- Elementary library--When I was an elementary librarian, I usually showed the video to the classes the week before the book fair during their normal library time. This works especially well for librarians on the Art-Music-PE rotation, and it makes for an easy lesson planning week!
- Middle School Library--At my current school, our Literature classes only come to the library every other week, and even that isn't always for the entire period. My time with my middle school classes is precious, so I put the video on our teachers' shared network drive. The literature teachers are free to show the video when it is convenient for their class. I put the video on the network drive at least two weeks before the fair, which gives the teachers plenty of options about when to show the video in their classrooms.
- I also play the video for my morning library visitors and at lunch by request. Many of my morning visitors are in the library every morning, but I do have some new faces each day as well. This is a great way for me to see student reactions to certain featured books.
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