PAGE TURNERS: Dawson-Bryant enjoys book fair

Published 10:47 am Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hannah Montana, the Jonas Brothers, Indiana Jones and Barack Obama were among many others on display at Dawson-Bryant Elementary School, and it was not because of a red-carpet event.

But arguably just as prestigious, the blue carpet that covers the school’s library was treaded all week by eager readers for the annual scholastic book fair.

After lunchtime Wednesday afternoon, energetic elementary students sacrificed a few minutes of recess to browse the shelves of books for sale in the library.

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The girls eagerly chose pink-and-purple covers that displayed a beaming Tinkerbell or a sparkling princess, while most of the boys migrated toward the basketball books and car covers.

First-grader Logan Sizemore flipped through a picture book of “High School Musical,” a movie he said his mother and sister watch all the time. And although they liked the female starlets of the movie, Sizemore said he favored the movie’s basketball-loving character, Chad.

Movie-themed books made up a good portion of the book fair’s selection, perhaps a genre popular among children.

According to Gail Carpenter, the school’s librarian, the most-purchased books typically tend to be the video-game-code books and the world-records series.

But to Carpenter and the library volunteers, it isn’t what draws a child to a particular book, but the fact that they have a book in their possession.

“I’m amazed at how many kids haven’t been to Briggs Library,” Carpenter said. “For the most part, the school library is the only one they’ve ever experienced. So one of the most important reasons to hold a book fair is to physically put books in these kids’ hands.”

And that is exactly the result of this year’s fair.

Payton Smith carried a square, red book in his arms, titled “Bad Dog, Marley,” author John Grogan’s children’s version of his New York Times Bestseller “Marley and Me.” Smith said he has previously read the chapter book that was recently made into a movie.

“I like reading,” Smith said. “It’s fun. Really, really fun.”

In order to keep the library’s shelves up-to-date with books children will enjoy, Scholastic offers the school a percentage of the revenue from the sale to purchase from its inventory. And Carpenter said she uses this opportunity to stock up on titles the children want to see.

“We want to get what the children find interesting,” she said. “We want them to have a love for reading, and it’s easier to get them to read what they like.”

Choosing for all K-5 grades, Carpenter said she typically picks a variety of reading levels in whatever is popular at the time.

And although it is indeed a book fair, bounded pages are not the only items for sale.

Computer and Nintendo DS games, posters, pencils and key chains are all displayed for purchasing. Carpenter said she discourages the students from spending money on these items, however, because she would rather them leave with a book in hand.

A small section of cookbooks and parent-related books are also available for purchase in the library. Monday night served as a family night when parents and children could browse the shelves together.

“Family night is very popular,” Carpenter said. “I think the children like to show off their library. And the parents are very supportive.”

And until the next annual book fair, the elementary students can read and re-read their purchases or check-out a newly added library book specifically chosen by the librarian herself.