I volunteered at my daughters' school book fair yesterday. It's been a while since I've worked a book fair, but many of my observations were the same as what I observed at book fairs past.
- Children are generous. Many will spend every dime they have (which is why Scholastic is smart enough to put out $0.50 bookmarks, erasers, and pencils). But those children who do have a little left-over cash often share it with their friends. That's great news for the school. This is a fundraiser, after all.
- Very few children actually pick up the books and read the back covers. Only the hardcore readers seem to do that. The others either pick up a book in a series they're familiar with, choose a book that the teacher has already read to them, or buy what their friends are buying. This observation always dismays me a little. But I'm one of those people who could spend hours in a book store reading the blurbs on a million different books before I decide what to buy.
- Up through 5th grade, buying books is cool. Then, at 6th grade, something seems to shift. The 6th graders crowd around the kitschy pens, journals, and posters. We didn't sell many books during their shopping period.
- If you're working a book fair, count each child's money before you ring up the sale. I didn't have to void many sales, but I was hesitant to ring up sales that went above $20 before I checked to make sure those children could pay. They could. That made me smile. Those were the hardcore readers I mentioned earlier.
- Last but not least, there will be a run on whatever the most popular kid in the class buys. If he/she buys a certain book, everyone else wants that book, too. Be ready to take orders, because you probably haven't stocked up on that book/pen/poster/journal. If you're a parent wondering why your child bought an item that doesn't seem like something that would interest him or her at all, that's why.