A Walk Down Memory Lane: Scholastic Book Fairs

Posted May 8, 2020 by Amber in Bookish Things / 8 Comments

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I’m feeling a bit nostalgic today.

Who remembers going to Scholastic Book Fairs when they were younger?

Those things were the best, right?  I am so glad they’re still around, because they were a highlight of my school year.  I still remember that moment when it felt like books were going to go digital and I remember one of my concerns being these book fairs… so many kids would want to go just to get out of class and go, and they’d find a book and it would change everything.  Not that it is an impossible stretch in a technologically driven world, but there’s something special about a hallway or study room being transformed into a pop-up book store.

I have such fun memories of going down with my friends.  There were always those who, or course, would go for the knick-knacks and baubles.  I admit to buying a fancy pencil eraser or two in my time (they were all the rage in the 90s).  Those things were classroom currency and always good to have with your extra nickels and dimes.

But the books, guys.  I was there for the books.  As many as I could get.

My family did not have a lot of spending money – we didn’t go on vacations unless it was camping (and then, not until I was older) or sponsored by a grandparent.  We only got new clothes at the beginning of the school year or in moments of absolute need.  My parents ran their cars into the ground… then duct taped them together and drove them another couple years.  But they always gave me a little money for the Scholastic Book Fair.  For whatever qualms I may have with my family from time to time, they have always supported my reading.

Scholastic Book Fairs were for me, like Christmas.  I gobbled up stories like I needed them to live, and these Fairs introduced me to new and exciting things I would not have found otherwise.

I got Captain Underpants!  Animorphs!  Saddle Club Special Editions! Shel Silverstein!  I could get a handful of books for less than $10, a modern miracle, and I would guard those treasures with a fiery passion.  My mother and I would spend a week pouring over the catalogue, making a plan.

Oh man guys, remember when books were just $0.95?  Scholastic Book Fairs are the best!  Are prices still that low?

We’d circle the books, figure out the best plan for the most books under the amount my parents allotted me.  Admittedly, there was some begging and whining because I wanted all of them… but we got there in the end.  In my school, the different classrooms were assigned different times they could go, and I’d run walk down with my friends and we’d just dive in.

It was wonderful.

To this day, I still have a few books from the time of Scholastic Book Fairs.  While I outgrew many, there were a handful of old favorites that I’ve clung on to over the years.  All of these I still have, with the exception of Paperquake, which did not pass the Great Bookcase Crusade challenge last year.

While I know that these are all middle grade books, I just can’t make myself say goodbye.  There’s something special about these nostalgic stories, the books that have been with me from childhood.  It’s almost like I can revisit that fresh, excited feeling when I pick them up off the shelf.

One of my absolute favorite things about BookCon last year was this same feeling – displays and displays of books, whispering to me to pick them up, buy them.  Are there pop-up bookshops for adults?  If not, someone should tap into this nostalgia a la the book van from The Bookshop on the Corner and get on top of that.

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Did you go to a Scholastic Book Fair as a kid?  If so, what are your memories around the event?  If not, do you think you would have enjoyed it?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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8 responses to “A Walk Down Memory Lane: Scholastic Book Fairs

  1. Oh, I remember these! They were fun but also expensive, at least for kids who couldn’t afford to spend much or had stingy parents, haha. I only bought Captain Underpants, the Pokémon handbook, and some guide to surviving in the wild. Too bad I didn’t see those cat books. I would’ve bought them since cats were my favorite animal.

    • Amber

      Yeah – for me it was the *one* thing my parents would let me do, and while I had a strictly chosen shopping list going in, it was still so much fun and I feel very lucky to have been able to participate in the fair. <3 My parents wouldn't let me buy Captain Underpants! XD I brought the books home from the library and they thought they were weird and childish and they nixed that one. Haha, I remember being so mad at the time, but retrospectively, they wouldn't have been keep-forever-and-read-again books anyway. 😛

  2. I remember going to Scholastic Book Fairs when I was a kid but they must have always caught me and my parents off guard because I don’t remember ever buying anything from them other than pencils and erasers. I had plenty of flyers with the books available on them though!

    Louise recently posted: Unpopular Opinions Book Tag
    • Amber

      I think most of my peers bought pencils and erasers simply by choice! Those things were currency in my school! XD Still, attending them was a fun break from the school day!

  3. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! <3 I loved Scholastic Book Fairs too! My mom would always volunteer to work them and I often got roped into helping set up and take down. Which was okay because it meant I got to spend extra time hanging around and deciding how to spend my money! If I remember correctly my sister and I were each allowed 3 books and then I often bought more with my allowance haha. I have a Dear America book from the fairs as well!! I have Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie 😀 I also just read Time Cat a couple weeks ago! Haha Tho I didn't get it from a book fair. Great post! I enjoyed reading this a lot!

    Brittany recently posted: Wyrd & Wonder Review: Time Cat
    • Amber

      :O Working and assisting at the book fair sounds like fun (or at least, for a bookish kid like I was!). Haha. I just quickly skimmed through your Time Cat review and I’m going to look closer after work – that’s one of my childhood favorites and I’m so excited someone else in this world has read it!

  4. I had these when I was in school too! They normally put them in the libraries of my schools because I went to public high schools that were so packed we didn’t have an extra room. But it was so fun to have a pop-up store inside the library! I remember buying a Captain Underpants book or two while there, but mainly I would buy the novelties because my mother would take the money allotted for the books and order them from the catalog and give my sister and I some cash for items. So I didn’t normally buy the books there but I once tried to read a few chapters of one while my class had their turn inside.

    Monica Laurette recently posted: My Inside Out World
    • Amber

      I love the idea of little Monica reading while her classmates shopped! XD

      Now that you mention the catalogue, that’s makes a lot of sense! I don’t remember my parents ever ordering, but that must have been a thing when I was younger too, like Girl Scout Cookies order sheets! <3

      The novelties, though. So many of us were there for the novelties!