Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 Days::: Thoughts on Book Fair

I could give you a lot of excuses (God knows I have a list of them) of why I haven't blogged, or I could just carry on.  Tonight I feel like going with the carry on route.

As I've mentioned a trillion and one times, last week was book fair and I'm the librarian at the elementary school, so that kind of makes me like the quarterback of the winning super bowl team.  Kind of.

Book Fair can sometimes be a hot topic.  There are a lot of different opinions about book fairs - how they should be run, what kids should buy, how much they should spend, etc, and since I'm in the thick of it, I thought I would share my opinions.

1.  In our family, the kids get money from grandparents or from allowance for book fair.  So I consider that to be their money.  And I let them spend their money however they like (within reason, people, within reason).  We have a billion books at our house, but it isn't very often that I buy them junk - fancy pens and pencils, posters - you know, carp.  So they tend to lean toward that at the book fair.  And I let them.  But they have had teachers tell them things like...
*if they have enough money for a book they have to buy a book
*if they don't have enough money for a book (Chandler has tried to spend a dollar before) then they can't get anything
*they can't buy those items without a parent

And each time, these directions have irritated me.  So, I don't put those restrictions on the students at my school.  (If their teacher does, then that's on them, not me.)

2.  I've had teachers tell students that they have to buy a book on their reading level.  No if, ands, or buts about it.  Are you kidding me???  It made me want to cry - a child with five dollars having to read out loud to their teacher a book that they desperately wanted - but the teacher telling them no because it wasn't a just right book.  Sometimes, kids just feel better about reading if they can carry the popular book around.

My bottom line is that the book fair is a fund raiser for the library.  So that means that the more money that is spent at it - either on books, posters, the junk, whatever - the more money is then earned by the library....for BOOKS or reading rewards or author visits or for participation of Reading Bowl or Battle of the Books. 

While book fair can be annoying - for both parents and teachers - it is important to recognize that good comes from the book fair.  Good that is good for all students at the school. 

The end.  I am now stepping off my soap box.


5 comments:

arg said...

BRAVO! I totally, 100% agree- I don't care WHAT the kids are reading (ok, hello. within reason) as long as they are reading and if they want to buy the "junk" so be it. I'm so glad you put it into words! :)

Rebekah said...

As a media specialist, you have a different perspective of book fair than homeroom teachers. You are trying to raise money for the media center. We're trying to improve reading scores. You are not held accountable at the end of year like we are. If I am spending my money to buy them a book, they are choosing something that will be help improve their reading level. They can still pick out one that interests them and they CAN read. No need in pretending to be something they are not. Last thing I need is a drawing book or journal that is going to distract them from their learning. Our previous media specialist had the same philosophy. Buying the "knick knack junk" was last resort.

Juli Anne Patty said...

Darlin', I am totally with you, but I do feel for the teachers. As a former teacher (emphasis on "former"), I can say this (while current teachers cannot), I can't tell you how many calls I got from parents who were angry AT ME for what their kid bought at book fair (or snack time or on a field trip or whatever). Obviously, my response was, that's between you and your kid and every family has different rules. Make yours and hold your kid accountable. But sadly, I can see teachers making a blanket rule, simply to avoid this particular craziness.

As for that "buy only something on your reading level" situation, that's ALSO a parents' call, not a teacher's. And should they decide to make that rule, I would hope they'd find a less belittling way to communicate it because a, it's mean; b, it's counterproductive; and c, it makes me want to put them in time out. Forever.

But, in case that parent is not so much mean, but simply worried about reading improvement, I'd like to offer just a tiny nudge in the other direction:

We only improve by pushing ourselves, getting out of the comfort zone, and just going after what we LOVE. If your kid is reading - ACTUALLY reading, or attempting to read - a book they think they might love, and it happens to be something above their level, rock the heck on. Help them. They'll benefit far more than reading something that doesn't challenge them OR interest them.

Anonymous said...

I don't usually comment on here but.....
I figure that if my kid wants to buy a book at the book fair that's their choice - not the teachers. That's what home reading is for or library period. If they want to buy a drawing book, graphic novel etc. again their choice.
For some kids who only get a few bucks a week or have saved some of their allowance for some kooky pencil or eraser so be it. Who knows maybe that is there reward for doing something at home.
Teachers can take the time to control reading and be accountable during actual classroom time and with homework assignments.

Hannah said...

Hello Angie I'm new to your blog. I have twin 20 month old boys and a five year old cheerleader/fairy/daughter. I'm looking forward to seeing what mayhem it'll be with tweener twins, I'm sure you can give me the 4-1-1.Nice to meetcha!