For some people, the childhood memory of book fairs coming to their school is a fond one, full of precious anticipation and exciting purchases. For others, it’s bittersweet — there was the joy of looking through bright and shiny new books, but there was also that constant, nagging knowledge of not being able to afford anything that preceded leaving the fair empty-handed.
But one independent bookstore is trying to change that.
Books Inc., the oldest independent bookstore in California’s Bay Area, will start operating its long-running book fair through a nonprofit called the Reading Bridge this fall. Through this program, the nonprofit will be able to help raise money for schools while ensuring that students from underserved communities are also able to have a book fair experience.
The program will run under two models. The first will be a more “traditional” book fair, with part of the earnings going to the host school and the other part to the nonprofit. The other model is where the “bridge” aspect of the Reading Bridge comes into play — through it, students from Title 1 schools will be able to go home with a book of their choosing.
The program came about partially from Reading Bridge executive director Hannah Walcher’s experience with Book Inc.’s children’s events and book fairs. She noticed, “how sad some people found working the book fairs, because they’d see kids who’d come to the register and not have enough money.” The observations made at these events really molded the structure of the program. “Choice is really important to us, because if you don’t get to choose the book you’re reading, you’re not going to be excited about it,” Walcher continued.
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