COVID-19 has changed our lives. Working as a media specialist, or any type of educator, is overwhelming and stressful right now.
I rarely have insomnia. A few years ago, we moved from our home state of Texas to North Carolina. My husband didn’t have a job. I slept fine. My daughter left for college. I missed her, but didn’t miss any zzzzzzs. I started work at a new school, and then another. Still sleeping. COVID-19 popped up. I have a pretty strong immune system and rarely get sick. It was on the other side of the world, nothing for me to worry about. Even as it moved closer, I continued to sleep well. The governor closed the schools until the middle of May. I miss being around people a little, but I like working from home, too. Our son came home from college for the rest of the semester, so we were empty nesters for about a second, but that was ok. I continued to sleep well.
Until I didn’t.
Maybe I was more stressed than I realized. Maybe I needed to take a step back.
The book fair is a popular fundraiser for the library media center. Here are some book fair ideas to make your next one a smooth one.
Are you a school library media specialist? Are you carrying a flyer on a clipboard, extra change in your pocket, and caffeine in your oversized mug? Are you wearing comfortable shoes, like seriously, the most comfortable ones you own?
Do you have a week’s worth of slow cooker meals in your freezer?
If you answered yes to all of the questions above, it must be book fair week!
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I spent a lot of time this year looking critically at our collection. Analyzing. Scrutinizing. I have been in this library for 2 years now, and I have big plans.
I want a library collection reflecting the diversity of students in my school. Like most school librarians, I want students to read about kids like themselves, and about kids like their classmates, and to get so lost in a compelling story that they can’t stop reading. So we need books with diverse characters with diverse experiences, written by diverse authors, and we need a lot of them.
But the truth is, I don’t have that library yet.
The truth is, too many of my students don’t see themselves or their experiences reflected in the collection, so they don’t want to read it.
The truth is, too many of our books are only about white kids. Or if they have African American or Asian American or Hispanic characters, they are historical fiction. Or supporting characters. They don’t address modern-day problems or struggles or bias. Few of them address social justice.
The truth is, students deserve better.
Hosting a readathon doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are 9 easy readathon ideas to get your fundraiser off the ground.
“You raised enough money to buy us 100 new books!” The students in the media center broke out in spontaneous applause and cheered before they adjusted their blankets and turned back to their books. They were participating in our school’s first ever readathon.
Show me the books!
100 books is a small order for some schools, but for us this was huge! Our book budget is tiny. Most of our budget replaces worn-out copies of titles we already own. Our books do not have a little tape on them--sometimes the yellowed tape is the only thing holding them together. The frayed edges are downright embarrassing, and the soiled pages are just gross.
We needed a way to raise more money for new books, like another set of Harry Potter because no one can ever get the one they need. Or books on soccer teams. Or books published in the last three years.
And then my colleague suggested a readathon. Of all of the library fundraisers I have held over the years, the readathon was the most successful and most popular among the students. I pitched the idea to my principal, and in about 3 weeks I put it together. We made more profit than we earned from the book fair, and with much less effort, I might add. With these suggestions, maybe a readathon will be your next school fundraiser.
What is a readathon, you ask?
A readathon is a fundraiser during which students read in exchange for pledges or donations to their school. Typically, they ask friends and family to donate money, either based on a flat donation or the number of minutes or pages read. The students then read their books in a central location on a specified day. Sometimes adults take turns reading books to a group of students. For older students, as in our case, students can bring blankets and pillows and read silently. A readathon is easily customized to a school’s schedule and situation.
My name is Julie Overpeck. An elementary school media specialist, mentor, presenter, middle grade book reviewer, and queen of the #libraryhack, I am a Texas girl in North Carolina with 18 years in education and 14 years of public school library experience.