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Book Fair Tip #3

Set clear guidelines for teachers wanting to send individual students to the book fair.

Marissa was absent when her class came to the book fair. When can she come in to look around?

Brady bought a book from the fair yesterday and brought more money today to buy a poster. When he come in?

Janelle’s mom wants to shop the book fair with Janelle. What is a good time for her to come?

Every time book fair rolls around, you take great care making the schedule for classes to come visit. But there are a million reasons students need to shop the book fair outside their normally scheduled class time.

The book fair is busy. Just taking care of your regularly-scheduled classes can be a tall order, but you do still need to account for students coming to the fair on their own. Especially if you are in a large school, you must have a plan for this so you don’t get overwhelmed. Take a few minutes to really think out when you want students to come to the book fair on their own.

General guidelines I use, no matter what grade-level my library is:

  • “Show me the money.” All students get to visit the book fair during their whole class preview-purchase time. Outside that, they must have money to spend in order to come in on their own (without a parent or teacher). Unless they were absent, students have already had a chance to browse the book fair, so they have no reason to return to the fair unless they are making a purchase. If they were absent, I allow them to come when the teacher can send them.
  • Be flexible. There are exceptions to every rule, and you need to make every effort to accommodate special requests.


Some options for elementary level:

  • Students come with their specials (art-music-PE) classes ONLY. If they need to come to the book fair outside their scheduled library day, their specials teacher can send them. This option requires prior arrangements with the specials teachers, but the one year I was on the specials rotation, the other specials teachers were more than happy to help me out. This is what I did when I was on the Art-Music-PE rotation.
  • Set up a time for each grade level to use as “return to the book fair” time. Make sure you talk to the teachers and work out a time that works with their schedule and yours. Some options are during their lunch time, during their recess time, or during their reading class. This “return” time should be different for each grade level (balance the schedule). It should also be a daily time so students have one opportunity each day to bring money to the fair.


Tips for middle school (would probably work well for high school also):

  • I schedule two classes each class period for 20-minute preview/purchase. Our class periods are 47 minutes, so this gives me some overlap time if needed. We have eight Literature/English teachers, scheduled two per day during the book fair.
  • Outside their scheduled preview/purchase time, I ask that the only teachers who send students to the fair are the ones who teach English/Literature. This way, students are not visiting the book fair all day long with passes from different teachers (who don’t know the student has visited 5 times already that day). The students are aware of this, which helps keep them from constantly getting out of class all day so they can visit the fair (or wander around the building).


Visiting before school, after school, at lunch, during homeroom, during passing periods:

For both elementary and middle school students, morning, lunch, and after-school book fair visitors must either be with an adult or if, on their own, have money with them to make a purchase. I ask lunch and hall monitors to have students “show them the money” if they ask to come by themselves at those times.

I do not allow my middle school students to visit the fair at all during passing periods. If they have money to spend, they can come any day during permission from their Literature teacher. If their parent happens to come with their child at this time, I just call the teacher to see if the student can stay for a few minutes to pick out their items.

The most important thing when scheduling:

BE FLEXIBLE! There are going to be times where these guidelines don’t work, don’t apply, or don’t make sense. Your teachers have a very tough job, and they will have special needs and requests. Do everything you can to help them out, and never forget that you are there to support them.

Next tip: Watch your book fair video and give students a chance to watch it. 

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