Remember the Scholastic Book Fair?

Childhood classic sparks joy at SRU

Published by Annabelle Chipps, Date: March 25, 2024
A chocolate scented calculator sits among pencils and prizes. Students remember this and other novelties from fairs in the early 2000s.

Students experienced nostalgia last week as the Scholastic Book Fair came to SRU. Its time was split between Bailey Library and McKay Education Building during March 18-22. 

It included rows of children’s books along with classic book fair prizes such as erasers, novelty writing utensils, chocolate-scented calculators and more. 

The event was organized through a community engagement class in the Early Childhood Education department. It came about when discussing how to enhance McKay’s Center for Literacy Around the World (CLAW). 

“A lot of those books haven’t been updated so the CLAW is not really used as what it was intended,” Jessica Jordan, the education librarian who coordinated the book fair, said. 

One group suggested Scholastic as a way to acquire new titles for the collection. 

“We figured it was kind of dual beneficial, not only could we get some new books for the CLAW, but it really supports the mission of what the [education] program is doing…with the K-12 students to get some resources in their hand at fairly cheap prices that they can take when they become educators themselves,” Jordan said. 

On Wednesday night, the book fair moved to McKay and was open to families in the Slippery Rock community. It stayed there for the rest of the week. 

Jordan claimed it began in the library to give education students an excuse to leave McKay and allow others to enjoy it. 

“I remember the joy of the book fair,” Jordan said. “It’s been awesome…it’s that nostalgic moment of a little bit of my childhood coming back.”

Scholastic Book fairs have been popular in American schools since their inception in 1981 and have created memories for generations of students. 

“When the annual book fair rolled around, we would take time out of class to go it and spend our money, which already gave it a lot of cool points,” a YouTuber said in a video essay on the topic. 

“It really felt surreal and magical because this is what reading is, this is what all my teachers are trying to get me to do…touch the special pages in a pirate adventure book and then walk away with a handful of erasers and special pens at the end?” 

Jordan herself overheard students discuss nostalgia felt from the fair. 

“A girl walked in, she was like, ‘It’s a book fair, I think my heart just stopped!’” Jordan said. She listened to another girl point out everything she had personally owned. 

“That’s what the book fair was when I was a kid. You wanted it all because it was cool and different,” Jordan said. 

Maddy Kinghorn, a sophomore who heard about the fair on social media, agreed that the prizes were her favorite part. 

“It was really fun to be able to do something that I haven’t done in so long,” Kinghorn said. 

After the second day, the book fair made almost $900 in sales. That money will go back into the education department and they can use it to buy furniture or supplies from the Scholastic catalog. 

“You can bank your money and save it [to buy more in the future],” Jordan said. “I’m going to let that really up to the students who organized it because it was their project.”

The library intends to host another book fair next academic year, potentially in both fall and spring. This will allow for more funds and more fun throughout the SRU community.


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