The Big Week: selecting books for Scholastic Book Fairs

Picking the perfect book to take home from the Scholastic Book Fair is a big decision for many kids, and I treated it seriously. It would take me forever to decide which books would be MINE(!) and which I had to put back for next time…But, little did my 9-year-old self know how much work and time the Book Selection committee puts into deciding each and every book that may end up at a Scholastic Book Fair. To give you a better idea, Teryl McLane from Scholastic Book Fairs guest posts on the intricate process of how books are selected for Book Fairs.

It’s Book Selection week at Scholastic Book Fairs, or what we excitedly refer to as “the Big Week.” Twice a year, our team of book experts – former teachers, media specialists, booksellers, authors, and veteran Book Fair organizers – along with representatives from our Book Clubs and International divisions gather at our headquarters in Orlando, Fla., to begin the intense search for the very best children’s books on earth – those literary gems that will get kids hooked on reading and make them want to keep reading for the rest of their lives.

Finding books such as Harry Potter, Because of Winn Dixie, Junie B. Jones, Twilight, The Hunger Games, The 39 Clues, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid before they hit the bestseller list is what this team does best.

Throughout the week publishers from across the country, including Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, Harper Collins, and of course Scholastic, to name just a few, will travel to Orlando to present the best of their seasonal offerings to the selection team.

Despite working 12-plus hours each day, Book Selection is more book camp than boot camp. To screen the best books from a nearly overwhelming assortment, the group holds vigorous discussions and debates when voting on every book or manuscript that is presented. If the group can’t come to a consensus, the book is sent to a national panel of parents and kids for further review.

There are always recurring book themes every season. Wimpy kids and vampires still reign cool, while zombies and werewolves are jostling for their starring place on the pages. In the wake of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, the team is seeing an uprising in dystopian novels, while girly and glamorous is the motif for a number of picture books, which seem to be trending toward the glitzy side lately. And, of course, there are plenty of perennial favorites and returning classics like Alice in Wonderland, The Indian in the Cupboard and Chicken Little.

If you’re reading this blog, our goals are probably the same: to help kids learn to read and love to read so they’ll be more successful in school and in life. So even when the official committee adjourns this weekend, the selection team will keep reading away. Collectively, they’ll spend more than 10,000 hours reviewing more than 4,000 books this year from publishers across the globe to find the books that will turn kids into lifelong readers. For this group, selecting books for our Fairs is not a vocation; it’s an avocation.

***Whether you’re a parent, teacher, librarian or just feeling nostalgic, be sure to fan Scholastic Book Fairs on Facebook!

Previously On Our Minds:

* 5 Questions with Anne Lee: Book Fairs
* 5 Questions with David Allender: an inside look at Scholastic Book Clubs
* $217 million in books for schools in ’08-’09!


0 thoughts on “The Big Week: selecting books for Scholastic Book Fairs”

  1. Wow, reading this makes me all the more humbled that you selected my book! I am honored. Thank you!! Barb OdanakaA Crazy Day At The Critter

  2. I'm a bookfair Merchandiser for Scholastic, a school librarian, and a bookfair chairperson. How do you get to be on the book selection committee? It sounds like my dream job!

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