Bellwood book fair is a hit

February 27, 2019

With books being such a valuable resource in regard to students receiving a top-notch education, Bellwood Elementary School has recently taken steps to make them even more accessible to students.

In the past, the school has hosted a Scholastic Book Fair twice yearly. But, since the school only has about 100 students in preschool through sixth grade, the variety of books at the company’s fair was minuscule in comparison to larger schools like David City Elementary. That’s why Bellwood Principal Danielle Beerbohm said the school decided to take the book fair into its own hands.

For the past year, Bellwood has been organizing its own book fairs. Twice a year, several school employees attend the Scholastic warehouse sale to take part in a special deal - buy one book, get one free. Now, Beerbohm said, the school can offer hundreds of different titles as opposed to just a handful at the previously held Scholastic fair.

“This is just a way for us to keep the book fair idea going in our school. We’re a little bit smaller, so we don’t have the luxury of selling as (many books) as you need to bring the book fair here,” Beerbohm said. “Just another unique way for us to try to keep kids reading.”

The school is able to buy about 300 books a year at the sale, getting an additional 300 free through the special. Beerbohm said they sell about 150 of these throughout the year and have the ability to keep inventory until it eventually goes home with a happy child. Because half the books they purchase are free, the school is able to offer them at a cheaper price. Prices range from about $2-$4, which is about half of what it would cost at the Scholastic fair.

A common staple of book fairs is various trinkets and small toys for sale. But since many kids were more drawn to these items than the actual books, Bellwood officials opted not to supply them.

“When your kid has a choice between a huge pencil and a book, your kid is going to want the pencil,” Beerbohm said “So here, we don’t even give them that option. It’s either a book or it’s nothing.”

The books are placed out on tables for parents to browse at various school events like parent/teacher conferences or family literacy nights. Beerbohm said it’s nice for the school to have control over when and where it sets up shop. It’s not too uncommon for parents to walk away with some books from the fair as gifts around holidays like Christmas.

Preschool teacher Lyshelle Jisa said the books are a bit more affordable than ones you’d find at the store, so parents tend to buy more of them. She said the kids enjoy being able to have their own copies of the books teachers read in class.

“Oh they love it,” Jisa said about the book fair. “I think the kids really like that they get to take a book home and that it’s theirs to keep.”

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.