Skip to main content

The 10 People You’ll Find at Book Fair

It’s Book Fair time again!

Even kids who haven’t willingly opened a book the entire school year completely lose their minds over Book Fair.

And who wouldn’t when the decorating committee transforms their simple library into some magical land, like a medieval castle or an undersea experience, complete with a bubble machine at the entrance.

Even if you’ve missed the Book Fair reminder notes in your kid’s folder or all the giant red banners around campus, it’s hard to miss the kids wandering around after school dressed as human billboards ringing bells and spreading the news about the Book Fair.

My daughter’s in the 5th grade now (and one of the human billboards,) so I’ve been to my share of Book Fairs. Heck, I’ve even been known to volunteer to work the Book Fair a time or two and I’ve got to admit, I still get caught up in the festivities.

Although the faces change from year to year, the general Book Fair population remains the same. Here are the Top 10 types of people you’re likely to meet during elementary school Book Fair Week.

  1. The “This Ain’t My First Book Fair” Parent – This parent immediately gets into the mile-long checkout line and has their child round up their stack of pre-approved books and arrive back in line at the precise moment that it is time to check out.
  2. The “We’ll Go to the Book Fair Tomorrow” Parent – This parent has absolutely no intention of crossing the threshold into the Book Fair but has run out of stalling tactics. She will eventually be talked into giving her child money to shop at the Book Fair solo the next day.
  3. The “Make it Rain” Kid – This kid’s parents sent him to school with a $20 bill and have way too much faith in their child. He promptly selects a $4.99 book and spends the rest of his money treating all of his friends to chocolate-scented pencils and sport-ball shaped erasers from the impulse-buy section.
  4. The “How Much Does This Cost?” Kid – This kid’s parents sent him to school with $5 and no concept of “things that cost $5” or “sales tax.” She will use her entire Book Fair time walking up to the check out with giant stacks of Lego Star Wars Encyclopedias and other $30 items asking, “does this cost $5?” She will finally leave after the check-out volunteer personally pays for her sales tax on her $4.99 book.
  5. The “Book Fair Volunteers” – After approximately 2 minutes of system training, these volunteers have to check out a thousand kids who are already late for class while simultaneously attempting to assist several “How Much Does This Cost” Kids and politely suggest to all the new “Make It Rain” pencil recipients that perhaps they shouldn’t accept such gifts. You should hug them or offer to buy them a drink.
  6. The “We Can Get This Cheaper at” Parent – This parent slowly chips away every bit of her child’s Book Fair excitement by continually informing them how much cheaper they could get the books at (and then forgets to ever order said books.)
  7. The “This is a Book Fair, Not a Poster Fair” Parent – This parent has to continually redirect their child away from the posters of cute kittens and puppies as well as any other impulse items. There is a good chance that whatever book their child finally chooses will come with its own necklace.
  8. The “Book Fair Lunch” Parents – These parents somehow got suckered into not only coming to the Book Fair but also bringing lunch for their kids to eat in the Book Fair themed dining area. They spend most of the Book Fair trying not to drip their leftover Wendy’s Frosty on the merchandise while repeatedly asking their child, “what time are you supposed to go back to class?” These parents are easily talked into impulse items so they don’t look lame next to the “Make It Rain” kid in line next to them.
  9. The “After Hours” Parents – The “After Hours” crowd is much better dressed than the lunch crowd and also significantly less open to impulse buys. You can just tell by the look in their eyes how grateful they are for the “after hours” night when the Book Fair stays open late so that they too can experience the magic of Book Fair firsthand.
  10. The “You Know They Sell Books Other Places, Right?” Parents – These parents support a “we’ll take one of each” approach to the Book Fair and require a stroller or their own personal hold pile at the check out. Perhaps it’s out of an “it supports the school!” mentality, or perhaps they used to be the “Make it Rain” kids when they were little.

The 10 People You'll Find at Book Fair!


Like books? Then you’ll love this post about our drunk, noisy book club (even if my daughter doesn’t.)

Don’t miss a post – Sign up to receive my newsletter with my latest posts.

Once upon a time, Susanne Kerns was a Senior Account Director at an advertising agency working for two of the top brands in the world. Nine years ago she traded in her corporate life for a life as a stay at home mom, raising two of the best kids in the world. She started her blog, The Dusty Parachute as a way to dust off her online advertising skills and begin her job search. Instead, she now uses it as a way to spend lots of time on the computer so her kids think that mommy has a job.

Susanne’s essays have been featured in Scary Mommy, BonBon Break and Redbook and she is also a contributor in the books, It’s Really 10 Months, Special Delivery and Martinis & Motherhood: Tales of Wonder, Woe & WTF?! You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.




The Dusty Parachute by Susanne Kerns
Follow Me
Latest posts by The Dusty Parachute by Susanne Kerns (see all)

19 thoughts to “The 10 People You’ll Find at Book Fair”

  1. BWAAHAAHAA!!! This is spot on and hilarious! You forgot the saddest ones, though – the “You already have too many books” or the “Don’t you want a video game” parents.
    {By the way, if you are tired of the non-book items that show up, have your school look for an Usborne Boooks & More consultant in your area. There is none of that and no leads-them-back-to-media stuff, either.}

    1. Her strategy was brilliant this year….She wore my down with the crazy-expensive chocolate scented pencils and after that, the poster sounded like a reasonable alternative. 🙂

  2. You have obviously spent your fair share of time at book fairs! I mentor at a “We win the Scholastic Book Fair award every year so people like David Pilkey visit our school” elementary school. Their book fair decorations bring new meaning to the phrase “Too much time on our hands.”

    1. I know it – I’m actually pretty impressed with how they’re able to transform the library – I even look forward to seeing the decorations although I think our librarian does a lot of ours from scratch.

  3. My kids are complete bookstore junkies. We’re hs’ers, so we don’t have book fairs, but I remember them from school…ah, the few days I actually looked forward to…

  4. HAAAA! I’m an after hours parent. I flipping LOVE the book fair but I do pull the “this is on Amazon for cheaper” card. So we get a couple and call it a day. Enough to make us all happy but I don’t spend 500 bajillion dollas on diaries, posters, pencils, kits and everything non-book related.

    1. My daughter is always a sucker for the “Spy” kits and fake cell phone calculator type of things. Even next year when she’s in the 5th grade I will need to supervise…or I’m tempted to try the “make it rain” route and see what she does.

  5. And don’t forget the “softcover now, hardcover later” parent! My son gets the green light for the $5.99 softcover varieties, but for the $18.99 hardcover varieties, he knows he’ll get my “let’s check that one out later at the library” response!

    1. Exactly! That’s where my “Amazon” comparison came in. The 9yo’s teacher had a class book request for Stella By Starlight which is only in hardcover so that one was purchased on while in the checkout line at the book fair. 😉

  6. I’m the “Let’s pretend book fair isn’t happening,” mom who turned a blind eye to all of the book fair announcements/emails/flyers I received. It’s not that I don’t love books…it’s just that my kids already have a ton of unread books sitting on shelves and don’t really need any new ones. One of my daughters didn’t seem to mind my book fair ignorance, but the other came home desperately begging for a Frozen book. I caved and gave her $10 since she said it was $7 (so she wouldn’t be a #4 kid). That reminds me…I need to go find out what happened to that change. Hopefully she didn’t spend it on a chocolate pencil.

  7. Love this and will so be thinking about this article at my daughter’s book fair on this Friday, because it is most definitely book fair time once again at our school, too!! 😉

  8. I love the Book Fair (we are the After Hours Parents), but hell no do I offer to volunteer. And I wish that impulse buy section would go up in flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *