The Importance of Book Fairs

When I was in Middle School, one of the highlights of my year was the semi-annual Scholastic Book Fair. Twice a year, the Scholastic publishing company would set up tables in the gym crammed with their unique brand of children’s and young adult books, and students would get an extended recess period to go in there and browse. I used to save up my allowances for just these occasions and I’d never come out of there with less than 5 or 6 books. And if there were any books I wanted but couldn’t find there, I could just pick up their catalogue and order them.

Author Jeff Norton points to such books fairs as one of the things that really got him to read as a child and I imagine there’s a similar story in every reader’s life – the circumstance or event that turned them from a casual reader to an enthusiast. The bottom line is, there’s really no better way to get kids reading than presenting them with books and letting them choose what most appeals to them. And there’s no better way to do that than at a book fair.

In Nigeria, the phenomenon of the school book fair is beginning to take hold, but it is still only concentrated among a minority of institutions. However, I want to encourage more schools to get in on the game. For one thing, it’s cheap; schools only have to provide a space, dedicate a day for the event and promote it among their students and parents. The publishers will do the rest. For another, it’s an excellent way to for parents and educators to access lots of books for themselves.

Book Fairs don’t just have to be sales events, either. Schools can work with publishers to organise other fun literary-themed activities like writing and storytelling workshops and author readings so that fair attendants can interact with writers.

There’s really no downside to a school book fair. It’s one of the few things in life where everyone – students, parents, teachers and booksellers – benefits. So my question to schools is: What are you waiting for?


  • I agree. I like the idea of having other creative ways to engage the kids at these book fairs or even leading up to the book fairs through reading/storytelling and writing competitions.
    Its even more effective when its material that the children can relate to and make the connections to their daily life activities – the things the see, eat and the people they relate to.

    Posted by TSD on December 12, 2012

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