What you can Learn about Life while at the Scholastic Book Fair

I volunteer for a community group who works at the local school book fairs. I had not been to a book fair in about ten years . My last exposure was memorable: I escorted students with explosive behavior issues on this overwhelming shopping expedition. One student melted down because he didn’t have enough money for the thing he wanted (a toy, not a book, more about that later) and I wouldn’t give it to him. Needless to say the two-man escort from the library wasn’t pleasant.

But this year….ahhh…I had SO MUCH FUN! Yep. It made me realize how much I miss kids. This particular experience was at a school with fourth through eighth grade students. Here is what I learned.

Number One: Book fairs have way more than books now. Posters, toys, lots of books with toys included. And the kids want the toys. BUT they still LOVE books. They love to look at them, talk about them, show them to the adults in the room and explain the story because they read this one already. That was fantastic.

Number Two: Kids are generous with their friends. There were three distinct groups. The first came with a BUNCH of cash. The second came with enough to buy a book or maybe two. The third had a certificate which community groups had distributed to those who may not have the money. (Okay, there was a fourth group…kids who forgot to bring their money that day and for them we developed a “hold” system by which they could purchase their selection the next day. Hopefully they remembered.) Anyway, back to how generous they were. The kids with a bunch of money offered to buy things for their friends, or they simply handed over some of the cash to those who weren’t as fortunate.

Number Three: The generosity had a limit. I witnessed a couple of kids who were buying things for friends come up short at the cash register. Instead of removing one of their many items, they would sadly inform the friend that they couldn’t buy them the pen with disappearing ink after all.

Number Four: Kids are creative. One young man had placed several books on hold with me, because although his father had given him twenty dollars for the fair, he had not brought it to school. A bit later I saw him in line buying a poster. “Hey,” I said. “I thought you forgot your money?” “I did,” he replied. “Eric loaned me five dollars! And I can buy a poster instead of a book because my dad said I could only buy books, but this isn’t my dad’s money.”

Number Five: Kids are grateful. So many of the kids thanked me for working, thanked me for helping them figure out if they had enough money, and giving them that extra few cents from the jar our club had provided just for those moments (sales tax is always a killer),  thanked me for showing them which toys would break as soon as used and more.

I’m truly looking forward to next year’s event!

Below are photos of some of the books I bought at a book fair over 50 years ago! Life time favorites.