Surviving A Book Fair As A Dad And Volunteer
As a huge fan of books and reading, a good book fair get me hyped! I always looked forward to all the new books, talks and especially the giveaways!
Before having kids all my free time was devoted to reading books, heck I even started my career in technology at the top book publishing company Random House due to my love of books.
So when I was asked to volunteer for my sons’ book fair, there was no way I was saying no to it. I was going to be lugging around my 6 month old with me but since I never did it before I was excited about it! So I agreed to work the event for two hours with my sidekick alongside.
Besides setting my own time limit of being there I learned a few other things along the way that I hope can help you as a volunteer and/or parent!
Kids Really Get Excited About Book Fairs
Getting my kids to read sometimes is like pulling teeth! They are great at it but getting them to actually sit down and read in this era of digital devices isn’t easy.
I honestly thought that most kids wouldn’t even care about having a book fair and boy was I wrong!
You know how kids get when they go to Toys R Us or a candy store? You know that excitement????
They exhibit the same excitement over books at a book fair! Yup I can’t believe it either!
I watched my kids and others who hate reading walk in with huge smiles on their faces. I heard them talk about the newest character in series I didn’t even know existed. I heard them give each other summaries of previous books they have read and I even witnessed kids recommending books to each other.
It felt like I was in a different world and it felt good. It felt good to know that even though my kids never showed me how much they loved to read, they along with their friends, actually loved books! Seeing that excitement made my 2 hours fly by quicker than I ever expected!
Don’t Be Cheap, Send Your Child With At Least $10 And Remember Tax
As I walked around talking to the kid shoppers I started to notice that some kids were really sad.
I immediately knew why! We parents know that most book fairs do not really offer a discount. Most fairs are held to help raise money for their school, so most books sell for their retail value! That sucks considering the deals we can find online at store likes Amazon or all the free reading material around the web.
Kids were sad because their parents didn’t give them money or gave them way too little! If you give your kids less than $5 you are almost guaranteeing that they will not be able to buy a damn thing!
I get it though; you don’t want to splurge on a book you can get cheaper elsewhere. However; I bet you can splurge on starbucks or that great bacon, egg and cheese from your local bodega everyday even though you can make it at home for way cheaper!!!!!
This is an event geared towards your child, your child is the featured guest, you don’t want them feeling like they aren’t part of it right? I went to this book fair with $16 and left with zero all because some parents sent their kids with $2, don’t be that person!
Pro Tip: Tax is real! Teach you kids that for every dollar they spend they should have a dime to go with it. So $2 equals 2 dimes, that’s enough for tax so your kids won’t look crazy at the front of the line! It also keeps others like me from going broke due to helping them.
They Will Buy Garbage, Get Over It
Many parents swear by sending a list of books that their kids can buy. That’s a great idea but not one that I use often!
I believe in letting my kids decide on what they want to buy and owning that decision. I know that the chances of them actually buying a great book are low. They are with their friends and they will buy things that they feel are cool or that their friends are buying!
My kids always come home with crap like an invisible ink pen or slime. I don’t get it but they love it!
At the fair I notice a whole group of kids buying invincible ink. Every time I asked them why they all had the same general answer, they wanted to have fun with their friends writing hidden messages.
But wait isn’t this a book fair? Shouldn’t they be buying books so they can become the next best seller themselves? And now you’re telling me it’s ok for them to buy junk????
I feel your pain but yes that’s exactly what I’m telling you! A book fair is setup to showcase the great world of books. That junk they are buying is part of this great world and why they love it! Let them enjoy it!
Plus $5 or $10 won’t make or break you most of the time so who cares, let them buy what they want and then use that purchase as a money lesson. I spent the whole entire afternoon playing with their invincible ink and created some dope memories with my kids due to them. You can’t beat that and it all happened by buying junk at a book fair!
Don’t Go Broke, Some Kids Won’t Get What They Want
This by far was the hardest lesson I had to learn!
I’m a sucker! I can’t be around kids that are sad or don’t feel like they are a part of something big like a book fair.
All I kept thinking was that some parents really sucked! I know some of them drive fancy cars or love showing off that they have some money in other ways so seeing their kids with no cash bothered me. I always told myself that if I can splurge on something, I better be able to splurge on my kids 1st and kind of expect everyone else to think the same way.
That’s wrong! You never want to judge a book by its cover so you never really know why a parent doesn’t give his/her child money for a book fair.
It doesn’t matter anyway, what matters are your pockets! It’s very easy to volunteer for a book fair and end up spending all of your own money helping out the kids that didn’t have enough.
I can’t help it so the only tip I have for this is to come with as little money as possible. You can still be Santa with $5, kids forget the tax portion of a sale all the time! If you stick to only helping kids cover tax, $5 can go a long way. Once you realize that you can’t help everyone and that some kids will not get what they want things get easier.
I left there feeling like I didn’t help enough because I couldn’t help more kids buy stuff and I thanked myself later on for not carrying more money in my pockets. I would have gone broke and would probably never volunteer again if I had more cash on me!!!!!!!!!
Ever went to or volunteered for a book fair as a DAD? Let know about your experience and what I’m missing!
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