Destination Book Fair

Emma Kim '23
By Emma Kim '23
A low murmuring of voices buzzes through the room, the shouts and laughter of children float above the rest of the noise, circulating and reverberating around the high-ceilinged room, shafts of light drift lazily through the windows, and colorful stacks of books are piled around the room. Welcome to Destination Book Fair. The St. Andrew’s Book Fair has been a tradition for years and years, but according to Mary Whitaker, librarian and head coordinator of the Book Fair, it used to be quite different.
“We used to take over Cru Hall for Book Fair,” says Mrs. Whitaker, “But as the school has grown over the years, the gym has been in use more and more often, so, about 15 years ago, we moved it down here to the library.”

There were also previously three different book outlets/stores sponsoring the St. Andrew’s Book Fair: Barnes & Noble, Scholastic, and Toad Hall, a bookstore that sadly closed on August 31, 2000. After the book fair was moved to the library, the school began to form a bond with BookPeople, due in part to Topher, a figure well-known to St. Andrew’s students for his entertaining book talks prior to book fair every year. The partnership has the added bonus of supporting a good local business.

However, the SAS Book Fair would not even be possible without the many parent and student volunteers who work hard to keep things running smoothly. Anitra Richardson, mother of Marnee Richardson, ‘26, helped Mrs. Whitaker organize the book fair and the massive volunteer help.
“We had over 70 student and parent volunteers combined to contribute over 180 volunteer hours for planning, design, promotion, set-up, management and tear-down. Wow!” she said.

Mrs. Whitaker said that a lot of parent volunteers worked a 9-12 shift, but many stayed all day. “And student volunteers usually work 1-2 hours,” she added.

This year, a new addition was made to the week-long event: parent volunteers wrapped books bought at Book Fair. Unfortunately, this new gift wrapping station didn’t get off to a very good start.  According to Mrs. Whitaker, St. Stephen’s had done a similar program in the past at their Book Fair and raised a lot of money, but the funds raised at St. Andrew's this year was not enough to justify having the station again next year. The money raised from Book Fair goes back into the Library to help us get more books, so support your community and visit the Book Fair.

Mrs.Whitaker explained that this year’s theme was meant to represent reading around the world, as well as international cultures and the idea of exploring the world through books. Last year, the theme centered around the enormously popular Diary of A Wimpy Kid books as a way to promote the release of a new book in that series (which was a bestseller at St. Andrew’s).

“Orders for Book Fair are made based off of previous years,” says Mrs. Whitaker, “So this year we got a bunch of Wimpy Kid books, but they didn’t sell very well.” The books that are brought the Book Fair start off as an initial list, which Mrs. Whitaker edits and then sends back to BookPeople, who then go to their warehouse and find the books we are looking for. These books are then shipped to the school and sold at Book Fair.

Mrs. Whitaker also says that the goals of the book fair are, “To promote reading and literacy” as well as to acquire new materials for teachers. “It’s a lot of work, but it gets books into student’s hands.” Mrs. Whitaker says.
As kindergartners run through the library, excitedly surveying the expanse of books, the true goal of St. Andrew’s Book Fair is fulfilled as a new generation of readers are given an opportunity to be excited about books, and with that, it’s time to depart. So long, Destination Book Fair!
We’re grateful to everyone who bought from the Book Fair; this year the event raised more than four thousand dollars for the school.

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  • Lower & Middle School

    1112 West 31st St.
    Austin, TX 78705
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    Austin, TX 78735
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Located in Austin, Texas, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private co-ed elementary, middle and high school for grades K-12. Students benefit from dedicated faculty, a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.