How to Set Up a Reading Fair Board: Outline the Basics for Student Success

Holding a reading fair is an excellent way to improve students’ engagement and excitement about reading and demonstrating their learning from a text. Students participating in a reading fair create a project, referred to as a reading fair board, to share the book they read and some of their key takeaways with others.

Discover the World of Reading for Children

During my time as a teacher, I’ve participated in many reading fairs. However, many of the reading fair boards I’ve seen created by students haven’t been set up correctly.

I created this guide to share some important considerations to keep in mind when setting up a reading fair board.

In addition to sharing useful information about setting up a reading fair board, I’ll also give a little more information about reading fairs and how creating a reading fair board can benefit students.

The Purpose of a Reading Fair Board

Reading fair boards serve a few different purposes:

  1. The main goal of a reading fair board is to build student excitement around reading and literacy. Reading fair boards provide students with the opportunity to share one of their favorite books with their parents, teachers, peers, and other community members.
  2. Through creating the reading fair board, students may also deepen their understanding of the text as they work to analyze to share information about it.
  3. Reading fairs can also motivate students to put their best effort into creating their board and sharing information with them as there are prizes awarded to participants and winners. Having this extra incentive may be just the motivation some students need to pick up a book, complete their board, and begin to appreciate and enjoy reading more.
  4. Some reading fair boards may also be completed for a group competition. In these cases, students can also benefit by working as a group and strengthening their collaboration and teamwork skills.

To further activate the activity of the students, think about the organization of a standards-based classroom. Here we have collected for you the necessary checklist and tips for organizing.

Reading Fair Categories

The exact categories of a reading fair may vary from school to school or competition to competition. In general, reading fairs are divided into four main categories: Family (Literacy Fiction), Individual (Literacy Fiction), Individual (Informational Nonfiction), Group (Literacy Fiction).

The Categories May Depend on Age Characteristics

The presentation type may vary for each category and different grade levels within the category. Here is a little more information about each category:

1. Family (Literacy Fiction)

This category is reserved for younger students who may need more assistance with their reading fair board.

This Category Includes Fairy Tales and Children's Stories

Students in grades PreK to Kindergarten are in Division A and will create a storyboard presentation, and students in grades 1 to 2 are in Division B and will also create a storyboard presentation.

2. Individual (Literacy Fiction)

The individual literacy fiction category is for students in grades 3 through 12.

This is the Most Extensive Category

This category is broken down into four different divisions:

  • Students in grade 3 are in Division C and will create a storyboard presentation.
  • Students in grades 4 to 5 are in Division D and will create a storyboard presentation.
  • Students in grades 6 to 8 are in Division E and can create either a storyboard or digital media presentation.
  • Students in grades 9 to 12 are in Division F and can create either a storyboard or digital media presentation.

3. Individual (Informational Nonfiction)

The individual informational nonfiction category covers the same age ranges as the individual literacy fiction category.

You Can Offer Children Nonfiction Book Ideas

It is broken down into three different divisions:

  • Students in grades 3 to 5 are in Division G and will create a storyboard presentation.
  • Students in grades 6 to 8 are in Division H and can create either a storyboard or digital media presentation.
  • Students in grades 9 to 12 are in Division I and can create either a storyboard of digital media presentation.

4. Group (Literacy Fiction)

The final category option is to work as a group. Students can work in a group of two or three to complete their project.

Make Sure That the Students Have Assigne Responsibilities in the Project

The grade of the oldest child in the group will determine which division the group will be placed in:

  • Students in grades 3 to 5 are in Division J and will create a storyboard presentation.
  • Students in grades 6 to 8 are in Division K and can create either a storyboard or digital media presentation.
  • Students in grades 9 to 12 are in Division L and can create either a storyboard or digital media presentation.

Reading Fair Project Guidelines

Before expecting students to make a reading fair board, it is important to set out clear guidelines for what you expect to see included on the display. Just as you wouldn’t assign other tasks to your students without clearly explaining what you are looking for, you don’t want to simply tell them to create a board without further guidance.

Use the tips below to develop your own reading fair project guidelines to share with your students.

Fiction Guide

When creating a fiction reading fair board, tell students that they should begin by the following things.

The First Ficion Fair Board Example

Start by listing the bibliographical information for the book.

They should also include information about all of the story elements in the book. This includes sharing a summary of the plot, descriptions for each of the main characters, the setting (time and place) of the story, and the main conflict and its resolution from the story.

If you teach older students, you may also ask them to complete an author’s study of the text to compare the characters, theme, or plot of the book with another text.

The Second Ficion Fair Board Example

After outlining all the information you want included on the board, be sure to also offer guidance on creating the storyboard presentation. Remind students to create an organized and visually attractive board that is easy to follow. Explain that their text should be large enough to easily read and that the section headings for each part of the board should be larger and standout.

If students wish to add any visuals or props to their boards, remind students that they must fit within the space of the display board, which should be a 36-inch by 48-inch standard tri-fold board.

Nonficion Guide

Since nonfiction books have a different structure and purpose than fiction books, the guidelines for what to include on a nonfiction reading fair board will be different.

The First Nonficion Fair Board Example

Students should begin by writing the bibliographical information for the text including the author’s name, the book title, the publisher, and publication date.

They should also indicate the type of informational text they read (explanatory, discussion, report, opinion, or instructional).

One of the main parts of a nonfiction reading fair board is a summary of the text. The summary should include the main idea and important takeaways related to that main idea.

Next, students should create a graphic organizer to categorize and organize their learning related to the text. Students can choose an appropriate type of graphic organizer based on the content of the text, but some possible options include cause and effect diagrams, chronological sequencing, comparing and contrasting, and information webs.

The Second Nonficion Fair Board Example

The next component of a nonfiction reading fair board is for students to make and describe a connection to the text. They may make a connection to themselves and how the text is relevant to their life or to another text they have read.

Students should also identify the author’s purpose for writing the book, such as to information, persuade, or entertain. You may also ask older students to share a different nonfiction text that offers either similar or opposing information to what was shared in their book.

The guidelines for setting up the reading fair board are the same as what was shared for the fiction section. Remind students to keep in mind that people will be viewing their boards as they walk by, so they want to have clear headings with an organized display.

How to Grade a Reading Fair Board

Before grading a reading fair board, you should develop a clear rubric. The rubric should match the information you listed that should be included on the reading fair. Additionally, you should also grade students based on the overall appearance of their board and how legible it is.

When you create your rubric, you can use a 4-point scale for each category.

Students that have included all of the necessary criteria for each section should be awarded all 4 points. 3 points would indicate that they included most of the criteria. 2 points would indicate that a fair amount of information was missing, and 1 point would indicate that a great deal of the required information was not present.

Try to Be Objective When Choosing a Winner

Consider the following criteria when creating your grading rubric for a reading fair board:

  • Plot Summary: This section should include information about the characters setting, confliction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
  • Book Elements: This section includes the bibliographical information (title, author, publisher, and publication date), the author’s purpose, and the theme of the text.
  • Legibility: For this section, you are assessing how easy to read the text or handwriting is. Spelling should also be considered when assessing the legibility of the presentation.
  • Appearance and Presentation: This final section covers the overall look of the student’s reading display board. Did they create an organized and visually appealing presentation? Did they draw or print out pictures or other visuals to accompany the written information on the board?

If you are hesitating between grading your winners online or off-line, in this article we’ve collected some tips for you.

Useful Resources

Closing Thoughts

A reading fair is a great way to get students excited about reading and help them learn to deeply analyze a book and share their learnings from the book. Helping students create a strong reading fair board that captures their learning is important.

Hopefully the guidelines I shared above will help you clearly explain the process to students and layout exactly what they should include on their reading fair board!

Simona Johnes
    • This can really vary based on your school and population, but I like to do at least two a year. Doing one in the fall and one in the spring can really help you (and students) see how far they’ve come in a school year!


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