By Rachael Stryker
Winter is coming. And if you like Game of Thrones, you know that means it’s time to put on your armor. But if you’re a Cornell family, then you also know that it’s time to dust off your reading glasses, because ‘tis the season for our festive Books Inc Holiday Shopping Night and annual Cornell Book Fair!
There is probably no one better to teach us about the history of these two beloved events than everyone’s favorite Teacher Librarian at Cornell, Ms. Mare Staton, who has coordinated them every year since she first came to work at Cornell thirteen years ago. Prior to becoming Cornell’s self-appointed “Guardian of the Books”, Ms. Staton was a classroom teacher across all elementary grades for 26 years, in such schools as Walden School in Berkeley, Havens School in Piedmont, and Marin School in Albany.
When Ms. Staton first came to Cornell, an annual week-long Scholastic Book Fair was the only means of funding for the school library. But soon after her arrival, and with the help of a vital core group of parents dedicated specifically to library fundraising, the school has turned the event into an annual celebration of reading! Of particularly amazing help in the last few years have been the Cornell parents who make up our Library Fundraising Committee: Dandy Conway, Kim Bolin, Sui-Ling Angelidis, Amanda Mahan, and Jeannie Choe. Meetings with such parents over the years have yielded important discussions about Cornell’s need to seek out and support small, local book shops who offer excellent titles instead of Scholastic for the Book Fairs, which has led to the school ordering and selling volumes from local Berkeley bookshop, Books Incorporated. Says Ms. Staton: “We have been so very happy as a result of making this change. The books sold are interesting, relevant, and of great interest to students, parents and teachers. And as a result, we support a business we believe in!”
This year, the Book Fair will be held in the Cornell Library, January 20-26, 2018. All Cornell students can visit the Fair during their regularly scheduled library time, but many kids may also come visit before school, during recess and lunch time, or after school with their parents. As usual, the Fair will include an array of fun things to do besides book purchases, including visits and Q and A’s with local authors, opportunities for kids to make “wish lists” of books they want to check out, and a reading-related Poster Contest! Says Ms. Staton: “Reading is an important activity in this busy world. It trains us to focus and ingest new material, and gives us new ways of thinking and experiencing the world. The Book Fair places participants right in the center of new works, just waiting for them to explore!”
But maybe you just can’t wait to see the library turned into a festival of reading and learning? No worries! Cornell is also hosting its annual Holiday Shopping Night this week! The event will be held at Books Inc at 1491 Shattuck Ave in North Berkeley, November 18th, 5-9 pm. This is a sparkling event where families can buy holiday gifts for families and friends; gather to drink apple cider and wine; eat tasty treats; and listen to the beautiful songs of the Cornell Recorder Ensemble. And always a fun bonus: Ms. Staton will read a few winter- themed stories! Books Inc generously donates 20% of all sales purchases of gifts or gift certificates during the event to the Cornell library. It is a very special way to make your holiday shopping support our school library, the Cornell PTA, and Books Inc. And the people in your life receive high-quality presents from you.
As always, a great number of volunteers are needed to make the events a success this school year. The many opportunities available for the Book Fair range from set-up or working as a cashier during the Fair, to managing the huge number of students coming and going or clean-up. Please look out for e-Tree and e-Pinky announcements in January that encourage parents to participate! Even coming to help for an hour can be a great help.
So, get ready – because it’s time to take a page out of Ms. Staton’s book –and come support the Cornell library and our student readers at the annual Book Fair and Holiday Shopping Night at Books Inc this winter! See you there!