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The City Journals

Happy Camper book fair generates free books for Butler Elementary

Mar 27, 2017 10:37AM ● By Rubina Halwani

Book fair committee (from L-R): Karen Packer, Tracy Jensen and, Ily Murdock pose in front of the Happy Camper. (Ily Murdock/Butler Elementary PTA).

By: Rubina Halwani | [email protected]
The Butler Elementary School community participated in a weeklong Scholastic book fair from Feb. 27 to March 3. The theme for the event was Happy Camper Book Fair: S’more Fun with Books. PTA members organized the event, which drew over 500 participants and generated more than $2,000 in free books.  
Scholastic developed the theme for the book fair. In the guidelines written on its website, Scholastic recommended participating schools decorate for a wilderness adventure.
Scholastic notes, “Invite students to take a hike deep into the book fair forest by transforming your fair entrance into a picturesque outdoor scene, complete with trees, mountains, and a night sky filled with stars. Decorate with camping signs, friendly woodland creatures, and even a faux campfire.”
PTA members decorated the fair entrance at Butler with a camper. They also invited some special outdoor creatures from the local Scales and Tails, a traveling bird and reptile show.
“On Tuesday night we had a special event where we invited Scales and Tails to come introduce us to some cool animals,” said Ily Murdock, PTA president elect.
“We met snakes, tortoises, lizards and a tarantula — all things we could find if we were out camping. 
Jeremy, our Scales and Tails presenter, shared with us the secret that he learned most of the information about the creatures he brought to show us from reading books,” said Murdock.
Jeremy Westerman, manager and education specialist at Scales and Tails, said, “We had a good turnout; by my estimate over a hundred, which then translated into a smash success in the book fair as well with many books flying off the shelf.”
Scales and Tails is a reptile, bird and insect learning zoo/travel show.
“We do educational and entertaining animal presentations/edutainment at schools from preschool to college level, libraries, corporate events, private events and state and county fairs,” said Westerman.
Murdock said the school receives 50 percent of sales in credit from Scholastic. The PTA distributed the purchasing credit to students, teachers, media staff and volunteers. Credit may be used to buy books, posters or school supplies from the Scholastic catalog.
“We give each student $5 credit to spend on a book. We have many books in the fair that are $5 and under for all reading levels. Many times kids can get a free book with their credit. Otherwise they get a $5 credit to reduce the price of the book they choose to read,” said Murdock. “I am always surprised that not every student uses their $5 credit we offer them. This year we had budgeted to spend $2,800 of our Scholastic dollars on our students and only $2,255 of that was spent.”
Murdock also mentioned another drawback: the lack of French books, which would support the dual-language immersion program at Butler.
Teachers were given $75 each and librarians $550 in spending credit towards item from the fall book fair.
“Students love to find fresh new books in their classroom libraries,” said Murdock. “We love to place popular books in each classroom. You should see 4th- and 5th-graders get excited about the Ripley’s Believe It or Not books and the World Records Books. Reading books like that increase reading fluency and help kids want to pick up more books that are related.”
Murdock said the school sends teachers, volunteers and librarians to reading events organized by Scholastic to help build up a community of readers. Through these events, teachers can earn continuing education credit.
Sales from this book fair raised an additional $3,200 in credit for the following school year.
In a note to parents on the school’s message board, Principal Christine Waddell remarked, “The book fair was a success. Thank you Ily Murdock and all the volunteers that came in and spent their time on this.”