Saturday, November 1, 2003
Visitors to Strawberry Park Elementary School's library and media center may not believe someone could be more excited about a book fair than library information specialist Sherry Holland -- until they see the ear-to-ear smiles of students entering the fair.
Holland worked hard last week to keep the attention of class after class of students who were in awe of shelves filled with thousands of new books, posters and pencils.
It's all part of this fall's Scholastic Book Fair, which is being held at Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools this week.
"We have book fairs really for the kids," Holland said Thursday, while surrounded by thousands of purchasable books ranging in subjects from tooth fairies to Italian cuisine. "It's a setting that's really built around growing readers."
Students tend to gobble up that setting, as second grade teacher Tracey Tyson knows well.
"The kids ask all day long when they can go to the book fair," Tyson said.
Book fairs are annual or semi-annual staples at many elementary schools across the country. As students return to fairs year after year, it can be seen how their reading levels and interests change with experience and age, Holland said.
And perhaps most importantly, the fairs are a way to help get children excited about reading and owning their own books, she said.
"It's very special to have a book of your own that you read over and over and treasure," Holland said.
Each elementary school class visits the book fair individually to preview books and hear librarians and authors introduce new choices.
"I want kids to really spend time making a choice they really want," Holland said.
Children can come back to the library with money from their parents to purchase books during the fair, and parents are welcome to come to the fair anytime during book-fair hours to purchase books or to browse selections.
Activities coinciding with the book fair are designed to help children become readers and writers, not to mention adding the exciting possibility of winning a new book of their choosing.
"It's all about fun," Holland said shortly before reading one her favorite new books to Celia Dunham's first-grade class. "Anything it takes to get kids to read is good for me."
The book fair also provides a rare opportunity for school libraries to raise money, she said. Revenue generated from hosting book fairs has funded visiting authors and other literary programs.
"We couldn't do those (things) if we didn't have the extra money we're able to earn," Holland said. Strawberry Park will host two visiting authors in January alone.
Children aren't the only ones who might be interested in book fair selections. Titles for young adults and adults also line the shelves and tables.
"It allows families to come look at books and celebrate literature together," Holland said.