Tuesday, November 12, 2013

If You Send a Kid to the Book Fair...

Today, I’m writing from my kids’ PTA book fair. It’s where I’ve been for the past 4 days, where I’ll be tomorrow. It’s my annual big haul volunteering activity – getting in a good 30+ hours in one big chunk. Then I don’t feel guilty for not making pumpkins at Halloween or helping cut hearts on Valentine’s Day.
Enter our "Oasis of Reading."
Yes, it took all of my art skills to make the palm tree in the desert.
Over the period of these five days, we’ll have about 400 kids come through, looking at books and making their wish lists.  Some portion of the kids will come back and purchase the books on their wish list, or books and items that are not.  For those parents sending in money for these purchases, here’s a few tips from my side of the cash register to make sure your kid is coming home with what you expect.

  • Review the titles of your child’s selections. Look at the book flyer or the online site, if these are available; ask your child what the books are, if not.  Many children come in with their money and buy diaries and stationary sets. That’s fine and fun – unless you intended them to come home with something to read. There are also often adult bestsellers. Not 50 Shades, but maybe a Jodi Piccoult book for the parents and teachers who wander through.  Some of them have pretty covers and interesting titles, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you want your fourth-grader reading it.

  • If you are sending a check, do send it payable to the school, PTA, or appropriate organization. Reconsider sending a blank check with your six-year old.
  • If you are sending cash, do send a moderate amount, somewhere close to the amount of their books. I can’t tell you how many kids come in with a $50 bill, purchase a $4.99 book and leave with $45 cash in their backpack. If you’re okay with that, that’s fine. Me? It makes me nervous.
  • Be clear with your child how they are to spend their money.  Are they supposed to spend it all on fun stuff like googly-eye pens and scented erasers or maybe buy a book?  Yes, you would think that if you give your kid $20, they would figure out that you expect them to come home with at least one book from the book fair. But yes, some kids will spend it all on posters, gigantic pencils, and chocolate calculators.
  • Encourage your kid to read! It’s amazing how excited the kids are when they come in the book fair. Even if you think your kid doesn’t like to read, in running the book fair for at least 4 years now, I can say there’s not been a kid who has come in and not smiled a little bit at the idea of getting a book all his own.  When they bring that new book home – whether a chapter book, graphic novel, blank diary – encourage them to read it or write in it or write something like it.  Keep the excitement going. 

Enjoy the book fair!

We're counting down to #GivingTuesday and reflecting on how we do and can give back to our community.  If you are a parent, how do you support your schools?  Let us know in the Comments below. 

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