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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

How can you raise money in your book fair?

Offer annoying toys, trinkets, pens, and pencils like Scholastic’s Drumstick pencils. Today my sweet little music teacher came to tell me that she did love me, but next book fair when I unpack, I needed to simply call down to tell her how many drumstick pencils they’d sent. Then she would buy them all and host a huge bonfire to prevent any students from using them in her class. I’d still earn the money and she’d save her mind. Gotta love middle school.

Actually upon further reflection there may be more to this. I was looking over the major purchases at the book fair and many were made by teachers. The English Language Arts & Reading teachers had brought students at least 3 and sometimes 5 periods in a day, watching the DVD, helping students select books, and choosing books for their classroom libraries that would appeal to a diverse readership. They bought the books students wanted but couldn’t afford. We did have a large selection of reduced price titles this year and students purchased very carefully with their limited funds. 

One of the teachers asked me when her class first arrived if I wouldn’t please just pack up all the junk and just sell books. A student immediately jumped into the conversation and said, "But I thought this was a fundraiser so YOU could go buy the books? Don’t you want my money for the stuff I want so you’ll have more profit?" 

It’s a conundrum. Every year we wrestle with these decisions. Some of you hide the toys or demand they not be delivered. Some of you display one item and hide the rest because you have a high theft rate (I can relate!). Some of you put everything out and take their money without any care as to what they purchase. I’m not going to judge which method is best. We may have varying goals for the fair. Some focus more on raising money, some on getting quality books in students’ hands. Either goal can be met through personalizing your book fair.

As for me, I’m going to call my new rep Susan and tell her to double my annoying pencil order for the next book fair. Shhh! Don’t tell the music teacher.


  1. Last year I started a new rule for the Book Fair, kids could only buy non-book items either accompanied by their parents or with a note from home. It has worked amazingly well – I doubled my sales figures from previous years and the kids are much more likely to buy books than those useless pointers!