25 Tips for a Successful Book Fair

book fair kidsStep aside, bake sales! Book fairs are fantastic fundraisers and can be just as fun for kids (without rotting teeth or ruining parents’ diets). While putting on a book fair is no small feat, proper planning and a list of mighty volunteers will ensure a fundraiser that’s sure to be a hit.

  1. Get started early. Any big event requires planning—and lots of it. If you’ve been charged with a spring book fair, you’ll thank yourself later for starting in the winter.
  2. Set the date. Getting on the calendar early—and choosing a date that doesn’t coincide with holidays or other big school events—will lead to better attendance. And don’t forget a save-the-date in the school newsletter or website.
  3. Get organized. Lists, lists, lists! Be specific and include as much detail as possible, and don’t forget to assign dates to action items.

Schedule volunteers with a simple sign up from SignUpGenius! SAMPLE

  1. Don’t do it alone. Recruit a planning committee! Consider the different talents you’ll need, from planning, budgeting and set up, to publicity and implementation. An online sign up helps everyone knows your current needs. SAMPLE
  2. Set goals. Whether it’s a dollar amount or a number of books that should be sold, determine something to shoot for. And don’t forget to publicize the goals to potential buyers! Everyone loves a challenge.
  3. Delegate! You’ve armed yourself with a committee of talented folks; now it’s time to use them. Divide and conquer!
Book club or school reading volunteer scheduling online

  1. Choose a theme. A compelling theme will add interest, create cohesiveness for your event, and make publicity simpler.
  2. Coordinate book selections. Use your teachers as resources here, and don’t forget librarians and book fair vendors!
  3. Recruit & schedule volunteers. Reach out to parents, teachers, and even older students. Use SignUpGenius to keep it simple. Volunteers can choose a job and time slot, and automatic email reminders are an added benefit!
  4. Take notes along the way. You’ll be happy when you’re planning next year’s fair! Or if you’re passing the hat, your successor will sing your praises (and you’ll rest easy knowing your hard work lives on).
  5. Publicize. Announce the book fair in the school newsletter and website. Book fair posters are often available from vendors, but you also have access to a school full of artists! Have students create posters for hallways and common areas.
  6. Send reminders. Send flyers home in backpacks prior to the sale, and follow up with reminder email blasts.
  7. Make the set up intuitive. Arrange books by reading level, subject or author. Make it easy for your buyers to find what they’re looking for.

Encourage reading in your school by having parents come into the classrooms! SAMPLE

  1. Motivate extra purchases. Ask teachers to make classroom wish lists and stack them at checkout. Parents could be moved to donate a book or two! And be sure to set up interesting sections throughout the fair, like “Gift Ideas” or “Principal’s Favorites.”
Book club online volunteer sign up

  1. Plan for a little fanfare. Book fairs don’t have to be quiet. Schedule entertainment at several points to build interest and increase traffic. Consider storytelling by a favorite book character, a song performed by students, or even a live raffle.
  2. Provide guides. Select volunteers to guide young children through the fair. Give them a fun badge or hat so children will know who to ask for help.
  3. Lure the parents. Invite them for classroom performances, or even a simple observation of “circle time” or Show & Tell. Afterwards they can head over to the book fair with their child.
  4. Don’t underestimate instructions. From operating the cash register to the post-event teardown, don’t assume your volunteers know the drill.
  5. Keep good records. Receipts and monetary records are no-brainers, but also consider a proof of purchase once books have been paid for, like a school stamp to the inside cover.

Make a master sign up for everything your Book Fair needs! SAMPLE

  1. Remember boxes and bags. Local grocery stores often donate boxes or paper bags, and you may even find a shop that wants to provide branded reusable bags for your students to take books home in.
  2. Provide snacks! Energize your staff and lure buyers at the same time. Provide crowd pleasers for kids, like goldfish or graham crackers, and don’t forget coffee for the adults.
  3. Offer prizes! Everyone loves a chance to win. Solicit prizes from local businesses and raffle them off. It’ll build excitement and draw a bigger crowd.
  4. Publicize the results. Let students, parents, and teachers alike feel pride in the fair’s success. Communicate how many books were sold, how much money was raised, and how that money will be spent.
  5. Thank everyone. Recognize committee members and volunteers on the school website and newsletter, and be sure to thank families for their purchases.
  6. Don’t forget the recap. Look back at your notes and pull together a recap, highlighting any issues that arose and adding ideas to make next year’s book fair even better. 

Brooke Neal is a freelance writer, brand strategist & mom to three little boys.