The Fleeting Magic of Scholastic Book Fairs

Marina Koren:

It is with this high in mind that I walked into a Scholastic book fair at Woodfield Elementary, a school of about 300 students in Gaithersburg, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. When my tour guides, a pair of regional Scholastic sales representatives, arrived, they led me from the main office, down hallways covered in posters and drawings, to the library. As we approached, my heartbeat quickened in anticipation, just as it did so many years ago. We turned a corner and stepped inside.

For a split second, it felt as if someone had sucked all the air out of the room. This was not the Scholastic book fair I remembered.

It certainly looked like one. Metal bookshelves lined the room, topped with brightly colored banners designating genres—science, adventure, animals. Schoolchildren flitted from section to section, giggling as they went. A person dressed from head to toe as Clifford the Big Red Dog, the star of a well-known Scholastic-made book series, waved his fluffy red paws enthusiastically.