An Ode to the Times When We Read: the Scholastic Book Fair

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The Scholastic book fair blasts it's way in Eisenhower Middle School.

Zahir Tranks, Staff Reporter

You wake up one morning just like you any other school day, and there seems to be something on your mind, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. All of a sudden, it hits you: today is the scholastic book fair. 

Getting ready with incredible speed, you fly downstairs towards your parents. Concerned with the unprecedented enthusiasm, they ask, “what’s the hurry?” In your excitement, you remind them that today is when Scholastic hosts a book fair at your elementary school and, oh by the way, that you need $20 to $50. Your parents are reluctant at first, they eventually give in to your puppy dog eyes and constant pleading. With pure adrenaline running through your veins, you rush out the door like lightning, ignoring your parents’ warnings not to waste your money and to come back with quality books. Let’s be honest, you are not buying books and you are going to waste that money on pointless ideas that you might not even use. 

 Arriving at school, you can feel the excitement in the air. Waiting patiently, your teacher finally announces the words you have been dying to hear: “Ok, everyone, get ready to go down to the book fair!” Even the kids that don’t like to read are losing their marbles. 

Running down to the library, you’re instantly immersed in a whole new world. The smell of freshly printed books, the toys calling your name, and the cheerfulness of your fellow classmates make up the perfect recipe for an amazing day. You could spend hours upon hours of your time exploring every corner of the fair, but sadly, all good things must come to an end.

As your book fair exploration wraps up, and you’ve bought all the miscellaneous toys you could find, you reach into your pockets. Surprised, you find some leftover cash after your toy spree and realize you still have enough to buy something else! You decide you might as well grab a book. “This one looks interesting enough,” you think to yourself, holding the laminated paper cover in your hands as the book catches your eye and draws you in.

Arriving home, you rummage through your school bag filled with toys and goodies. As you dump all the contents within your bag to the ground, you notice the last minute book you purchased. Without a thought, you start to read it. You’re hooked instantly. After a few hours pass, you’ve already finished reading the book! But you want more. You need more. That book was just the first of many. Now, reading is something you like to do. It no longer feels like a chore but something amazing. Who knew opening a book was like opening a door to another dimension? Books, comics, toys, posters, pencils, pens, plushies; we really had it all! 

I don’t know about you guys, but that story perfectly describes my experience at the book fair. 

“I remember being so excited and buying everything but a book,” said junior Kasey Johnson.  In some middle schools, they were so popular that it caused chaos among the children. 

Among the chaos, some people resorted to stealing because they didn’t have enough money to get what they wanted and they wanted more, therefore, some kids were not allowed into these book fairs. Since these were fundraisers, books and toys were often priced a little higher than some students were used to.

Kyara Avery, junior,  recalled a time when he was battling her morals over a cute plushie. “Yeah I stole,” she said, “but it’s because there was so much stuff and it was so cute, but it all just cost too much.” She never said she was proud, but she also never said she regretted freeing the plush. In all fairness, the bookfair had all of us questioning what was right and what was wrong, stealing or having a fun new toy and or book in our possession. Teachers also participated in the fun and buying books and toys for themselves or for their children.

Teachers at NAHS vividly remember the techniques used to get the most out of the book fair. “Those were my favorite days,” said Ms. Boyle, an eleventh-grade English teacher at NAHS. “My friends and I would trade books like you get this book and I get this book and then we can trade,” she added. “Too bad we had to leave these tactics behind when we got to high school.”

Unfortunately, when we reached high school, we had left behind our good buddy, the book fair. I spoke with two of the librarians at the NAHS library, Ms. Mckay and Mr. Scmalbach. Ms. Mckay has been working as a librarian for 20 years. Before coming to NAHS, she was a teacher’s assistant at Marshall Street Elementary School. She had the chance to experience a book fair while she was there. “I remember the excitement of the kids coming down and buying books,” she recalled.

McKay also explained the value of the event to the teachers themselves. She said that at the book fair there was a teacher wish list. “The parent faculty club would come up with a list of books that teachers needed and the [participants of the book fair] would help purchase the books” she added. 

Mr. Scmalbach, who has been in his current position for 17 years, has unfortunately never helped host a book fair for students. It isn’t normal for a high school to have a book fair due to teenage and adult content. “Most book fairs, especially scholastic, are aimed at elementary and middle school students,” he said. “The reason they aren’t any book fairs at the high school level is that it is hard to find age-appropriate content.”.

The book fairs were a pretty important part of our childhood. They allowed us to understand how these written works of art have the capability to introduce us all to a world of imagination far beyond our wildest dreams. It also showed us how literature has the ability to bring people together. Even if it was just for a day, book fairs give all of us joy and excitement, and if we were to have them, it would reminiscence those memories of being a kid, and getting overjoyed by books.