Saturday, November 8, 2008

Book Gifts

I have been thinking about a post on this subject all week, and then of course Jen came up with a perfect post about the gift of reading. 

My thoughts were tied to the book fair I am running this week.  This is a fundraiser for the media center and while I do promote it with the premise of getting books into kids hands, the real reason why I do it is MONEY - yes MONEY.  The book fair is every school librarians nightmare, dealing with parents, dealing with crying kids who break your heart, dealing with money (I had a kid today purchase $56 worth of books, only 45 in ones and the rest was in pennies, dimes and nickles!) but the money is our motivating factor.  With school budgets getting tighter every year I fear that I will have no money to spend on library books and other materials in the coming years, the money I make from book fair will help me out.  This year the money I make will go toward three author visits that I have scheduled - and I am SO excited to be able to offer my students this - I STILL have kids who ask me about our author visits from last year (and even yesterday I had to explain to a 2nd grader why Coleen Salley would not be coming back to our school this year).

So with that in mind, I have started targeting the parents in my school (I am in a fairly middle class school, we do have a reduced/free lunch population that is growing, but for the most part we are in a pretty middle class area) to use the book fair to purchase gifts for the holidays.

But the question I get asked the most is "What do you think Johnny would like, he's in second grade and is an ADVANCED reader?" (ah, aren't they all advanced readers!)

I have learned through the years, not so much from my job, but from my own children that reading material is such a subjective thing and even if Johnny loves to play baseball, baseball fiction books might not get him excited about reading. I find that younger children are easier to buy for than older children.   I do ask if they know the last book the child they are buying for read and then I might find similar books.  I might ask what the child  is interested in and find a non-fiction book about that subject.  Very often, I suggest giving a child a favorite book from their childhood.  While the recipient might not find it THEIR favorite book, kids to do get a kick out of reading books that their parents or relatives or even teachers enjoyed when we were their age. 

 I love to tell people to start a book giving tradition.  I know some families that have a night of Hanukkah be book night, or they give a new Christmas themed book to a family/child every Christmas (I do this).  I am lucky enough to get to meet many authors throughout the year and I always buy a signed book for my nieces, sometimes even including a picture of the author and myself along with the book (I do this for my own children too, but many times at least one of my kids is with me when I meet authors).

Like Jen says in her post, more important that GIVING a child a book is to READ the book to them/with them, even older kids enjoy being read to.  So while the hectic pace of the holidays starts to take hold, take a night to read a book with your kids (or a child in your life), that is the real gift of the season.


Susan T. said...

The book fair at my son's school used to include as many tchotchkes (feathered pens and so on) as it did books, but has gotten a little better. I'm not the biggest fan of it (my son whines for more money), but I do love to see what the kids pick out. The LMC (Library Media Center) has a program called Books as Gifts, in which families can honor teachers, staff members, or children's birthdays by contributing to the LMC Books as Gifts fund. A little book plate goes in the front of a new book bought with the money. It's pretty neat.

Chicken Spaghetti

Kathy said...

Susan, I SO agree with you on the "junk".

My spring fair has only books but I do have one "big" fair in the fall, although I put half of the "junk" into boxes in the back and don't put it out.

Teacherninja said...

I used to think that about the "junk" but Kathy's right about the fundraiser aspect. It could be brownies or "junk" or whatever. It's nice that MOST of it is books, but the bottom line is whatever money you make (no matter what you sell)will be turned into books or something for the media center.

Jen Robinson said...

I wish every family could have a book-giving tradition for the holidays (and birthday). I do know that it's hard sometimes to find the right books (I've had quite a few misses with my nieces over the years), but you still send a message that the books matter. And when you add in your time to read with them kids, well, that message is powerful indeed. Good luck with those book fairs.

MotherReader said...

Every year I update and add to my lists of giving books as gifts with ways to pair books up with related small toys or other things. Like pairing up a museum themed book with tickets to a museum. One of my favorite pairings is giving a book with a printed certificate to read it together.

Ms. Yingling said...

I only have a few pencils and book marks, but have removed most of the annoying tchotchkes. Yes, we need more money, but it is really about books. One thing I do in the evenings (we have conferences this week, hence Book Fair) is to sell homemade chocolate and peanut butter buckeyes for a quarter each. Huge revenue from that! Good luck with your fair!

scubacor said...

Hi Kathy,

My kids (age 3 and 4) have hundreds of books on their shelves. It breaks my heart to think that some kids can't afford to own any books.

If you have any K-1st students in your school like that, please let me know and I will try to send a few copies of my book for you to give to them for the holidays.


shelburns said...

Giving books for Christmas is exactly the challenge that Amy over at My Friend Amy's blog has challenged us with. I am doing it!

shelcows AT gmail DOT com

Jone said...

I hope your fair does well. The gifdt of reading is a precious one.

Jone said...

I hope your book fair does well. The gift of reading is a precious ine

mama reads! said...

Book fairs do send a lot of overpriced "junk" with the books. I only put out a little bit of it and use some of it for prizes. I make my focus on selling books and parents seem to appreciate not getting begged for $5.00 for a pen that may break in a day. I think making it a tradition to give a book as a gift is wonderful-I have started book collections with my nephews in just this fashion.

Becky Young said...

I just found your blog through someone who found mine on technorati. Hello, from another blogger/school librarian! (Though at two days a week, I don't keep up with the blogging as well as I'd like.)

I am tickled to learn from these comments how many others don't put out the book fair "junk." I put out pencils and bookmarks and other inexpensive trinkets, but I draw the line at pens, etc., that cost as much as books. Also, I hate those $14.95 fake PDAs. They are such trash.

Our parents appreciate my "editing."