Follett Book Fair: Lower School Edition 2019

Follett Truck Arrival: 10:36am Nov 1

I have now been part of school book fairs for 5 years. In that time, I have participated in Main Street Book Fairs, indie bookstore fairs, Scholastic and now Follett.

This year, I made the switch from Scholastic to Follett. After 2 years of dealing with low quality bindings, single-house pub list and tons of junk, I went with Follett this year. I have been pleased thus far with communications, availability of items and quality of bindings.

Before I contacted Follett, I did reach out to two independent bookstores in my area, but they declined to consider a school book fair. During AISL Atlanta 2018, I attended the Librarians, Bookstores, and Community Connections given by the Staff of the Little Shop of Stories and felt well equipped to approach. During this great presentation, they gave suggestions of how to connect with your local bookstore for events. Alas, could not convince my local booksellers of the benefits for all!

Follett solicited me via email in mid-2018 to consider hosting a bookfair in 2019. I had not heard many reviews and figured it would be worth trying at least once. I was able to secure my first choice of dates, and contract was signed. I was really looking forward to offering my students a wide array of new titles as well as not have to deal with boxes of random items ranging from water bottles to tote bags to preschool plastic calendar pointers that came with Scholastic.

Selection of layout in The Bolles School, Ponte Vedra Beach Lower School Campus Library

Highlights:

  • Fall of 2018 Contract signed and sent
  • Spring of 2019 First communications around book fair logistics
  • August 2019 Reached out to Duval County Public Schools to investigate servant leadership opportunities related to our book fair and proceeds
  • August of 2019 First in a series of monthly phone consults with my Follett Book Fair Rep
  • September 2019 Began receiving access to online portal for webinars, helpful PDFs, and images
  • September 2019 Connected with Parkwood Heights Elementary School: we will aim to provide each of their 304 of elementary school students with a birthday book
  • October 2019 Received box of Follett Book Fair promotional materials
  • November 1, 2019 10:36am truck arrived
  • Delivery driver helped move everything to my second floor library using our service elevator
  • 3 parent volunteers arrived at 11am and we were finished setting up by 12:30pm!
  • Cash register set-up super easy and I love the Drop Ship and Complete your Series options!
Interesting display option: four sided cart (I ordered 3 of these)
Traditional wheel-to-open V-shaped cart (I ordered 5 of these)
Wishlist sheets for students: for use on preview day. Includes information about sales tax, what payment options are available, and purchase date and time.

I have developed a system where students visit twice with their class during book fair week. The first visit is a PREVIEW day and the second visit is the PURCHASE day. On Preview Day, students create a wishlist to discuss with their grownups. That way, they can bring home their ideas and feel good about returning for Purchase Day. I remind everyone that purchasing is not ever required, it is just a special bookstore experience within the library.

This year, we aim to provide every student at Parkwood Heights ES with a Birthday Book. I reached out to the Elementary Region Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools to find out about ways we could be servant leaders in our community.

Servant Leadership is part of our learning experience here at Bolles. There are many ways we accomplish this and the Book Fair is one. The proceeds of our book fair are used to support reading and public school libraries in our area. Last year, we boosted 2 elementary school library collections, and in 2017 we assisted a school in Marathon Key, FL which was partially lost to Hurricane Irma. The Library Media Ambassadors assist in communicating this effort to our student body, as well as go on a field trip to meet and read with students at the schools support. Goal being to support literacy everywhere!

I will leave some comments next week about the overall experience! Feel free to leave questions in the comments section below!

Three Cheers for Lower School Book Fairs!

November 15 Debrief:

Our November Follett Book Fair – despite all the negative experiences I have heard about – was really well executed. The EXCELLENT book selection, high quality of materials, strong communication with my rep, and fast delivery of items ordered that were sold out. Fair drop off was at 10:30am the Friday before and pick up was around 9:30am the Monday after. Set up was 45 minutes with 2 volunteers on hand. Take down was the same. The portal for learning (how-to videos, PDFs for advertising, author videos) was accessible, though I gave many development suggestions. My volunteers commented how much “easier” the register system was to use and how nice it was not to have to sort and store JUNK. The pens, erasers, bookmarks and journals that did come with the fair were good quality and really well curated. I have booked my fair for next year!

Sharing is Caring with our Youngest Learners: Bibliographies in the Lower School

Research in the Lower School in one word: kaleidoscope.

The range of skillsets, prior knowledge, teacher applications and expectations, and scope is wide and always shifting. One place where I can create consistency is in the writing of a bibliography. I apply a few basic principles in my teaching of this essential part of a complete research experience.

I. All Lower School students can appreciate the power of MINE, YOURS and OURS.

Figure 1 Venn diagram retrieved from Wikimedia.com

Developmentally, Lower School students can fully appreciate what belongs to whom. Giving credit to someone for their hard work is well in the grasp of our youngest learners. Bridging understanding from the physical book to the work that went into it by one or more authors can be compared to an art piece a student just completed, or a fiction story just written. All Lower School students can appreciate their own hard work! When we do research, we are using previously published material to create something of our own. We are borrowing the work of others. Writing the Bibliography as a part of the complete research experience is a great way to show sharing and caring for the work of the authors.

Figure 2 Overview image of hurricane retrieved from pexels.com

II. Do we really expect Lower School students to write bibliographies? You bet!

Ready to dive into the eye of the storm? Bibliographies contain the sorts of material that our youngest learners have little or no connection to other than TITLE and/or AUTHOR. The copyright page is nearly always in font sizes you need a magnifying glass to read, and is largely passed over in early reading experiences. As has been posted previously on the blog, teaching the vocabulary of a bibliography is a natural and necessary first step. I have made it a point to embed lessons that include awareness around AUTHOR, TITLE, PUBLISHER, CITY OF PUBLICATION, COPYRIGHT DATE.

Figure 3 Figure with magnifying glass retrieved from Pixabay.com

III. Lower School students relish being a super sleuth.

Developmentally, students in the Lower School are curious seekers and love a challenge. When beginning bibliography lessons, I first turn it into a game. I start with the easiest information first, then mix it up until we get to what I have found to be the most challenging: publisher.

Once I have introduced vocabulary, here is a framework I use:

PK, AUTHOR, TITLE: even though not fully reading, PK students can look at the front of most nonfiction books and point to where the title is and where the author’s name is located.

K, AUTHOR, TITLE: emerging readers, K students can look at the front of most nonfiction books and point to where the title is and where the author’s name is located, and can occasionally read this information.

Grade 1, AUTHOR, TITLE, COPYRIGHT DATE: emerging and beginning readers, Grade 1 students can find the author and the title, and when shown the copyright page, can find the copyright date.

Grades 2-5, AUTHOR, TITLE, CITY OF PUBLICATION, PUBLISHER, COPYRIGHT DATE: students aged 7 and up can find all of this information with varying degrees of support.

At each age and stage, I provide a simple way to record the information except for PK where we create a group bibliography, as the research is usually done at the class level. In K, my students can copy the author and title onto paper and include at the end of their report OR the tech integrator can assist with having them type it into a new document. In Grades 1 through 5, I have created graphic organizers that stair-step up with developmental stages.

Figure 4 Rainbow check mark retrieved from publicdomainpictures.net

IV. Checking it once, checking it twice!

When recording information for a bibliography, I encourage students to trade their organizers and assist in the super sleuth checking. When we are finished, these organizers go back to the classroom for the students to connect to their completed research project. My faculty especially appreciates the collaboration because of the hybrid need-hate relationship most have with this step of the research process. However, it is ESSENTIAL to build these habits young, and with relative ease of use, so that the task is less daunting as an older student – and seen as an essential, credible part of the research experience.

Share your Bibliography experiences in the comments below!

Collaborating on Caldecott

Whenever possible, I love to collaborate with colleagues, friends, students…the fun of more brains than one just sparks a deeper imagination. Our professional organization, AISL, is another source of excellent teaching and learning partners. While many of us share our expertise at conferences and via the listserv – have you considered co-teaching with a fellow AISL member?

When I met Debbie Cushing, Lower School Librarian at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, last year at the AISL Conference during Dinner with a Librarian, I knew there was a project between us waiting to hatch.

While browsing the shelves at Little Shop of Stories, we began talking about Mock Caldecott and Newbery lists. We lamented ‘so many books, so little time,’ and outlets we seek out for guidance on narrowing our selections.

With that, the spark ignited. On the spot, we decided this year we would do a Mock Caldecott Collaboration: Westminster Schools Smythe Gambrell Library X The Bolles School, Ponte Vedra Library.

X

We both have Mock Caldecott programs in place with the Second Grades at our respective schools. We both are committed to children learning about the deeper purpose art plays in picture books. We both desired a fresh update to our programs. BAM!

We exchanged information and got right to it.

In May of last year, we shared a Google doc to keep notes, start book lists and develop timelines. In August, we connected both by phone and via our Google doc to work through the expressions of our programs and the timing of various classes, events and, of course, holidays. We laughed and found common ground while inspiring each other to reach higher.

In late October, we began our unit and announced it to our classes. My students were so excited to be sharing this experience with other kids their age! In another state! Imagine!

Through November, December and January, we read 13 picture books, analyzed all the art, debated merits of Caldecott guidelines, worked in Mock Caldecott Committees to [briefly] experience what it’s like to sit at a table with peers and opinions and choose a “winner” among a collection of winners.

Debbie and I shared photos, emails, and reflections along the way. We offered stationary to students to write pen pal letters around their reading experiences and Caldecott experiences. At the time of voting, we shared the unique results of both schools and compared notes. On the Big Day [YMA announcements] in January, when HELLO LIGHTHOUSE won, our students were jubilant!

Mock Caldecott 2019 Voting Results

Westminster Schools Lower School Library

Gold Medal: HELLO LIGHTHOUSE, Sophie Blackall

Honor Book:  I AM A CAT, Galia Bernstein

Honor Book: DRAWN TOGETHER, Min Le (author) Dan Santat (illustrator)

Honor Book: OCEAN MEETS SKY, Terry Fan and Eric Fan

The Bolles School, Ponte Vedra Lower School Library

Gold Medal: I AM A CAT, Galia Bernstein

Honor Book: HELLO LIGHTHOUSE, Sophie Blackall

Honor Book: JULIAN IS A MERMAID, Jessica Love

Honor Book: IMAGINE, Raul Colon

Announcement Response!

Collaborating on Caldecott? You bet!
Developing curriculum? Starting a book club? Trying out a new website eval system? Reach out to fellow AISL colleagues as collaborators! Over the next few weeks, Debbie and I will debrief and make plans for next year. This experience offered a natural and enjoyable way to grow both professionally and personally. Let sparks fly!