Back to Grade School: PRH’s First-Ever Book Fair for Grownups

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Few childhood events evoke as much nostalgia as the elementary school book fair. Decades beyond student-hood, many adults still pine for the days when their school libraries, auditoriums, and gyms transformed into pop-up shops filled with books, pencils, Gelly Roll pens, erasers, and more.

Penguin Random House captured that unmistakable, magical feeling at our first-ever Book Fair for Grownups on Saturday, November 23, at Lightbox in New York City.

John Hodgman and Lin-Manuel Miranda

For one afternoon, the sold out event attracted more than 700 adults who were transported back to school thanks to the creativity and curation of a truly cross-divisional team that recruited authors, partners, media, influencers and more to build out the experience. “Students” shopped a wide assortment of books for grownups, curated by Read it Forward and Belletrist, literary merch from Out of Print, and school supplies from Office Depot.

Book Fair activities also included “lessons” from authors from across Penguin Random House, t-shirt and scrunchie tie-dying with Glue, awkward school photos (with lasers!), a Tiger Beat lyrics challenge, a Lipsmacker selfie station, and a cocktail, candy, and chip-fueled recess powered by Urban Outfitters.

Author highlights included: Mad Libs Live with Principal John Hodgman (MEDALLION STATUS Viking) and English teacher Benjamin Dreyer (DREYER’S ENGLISH, Random House), with special-guest assistance from Lin-Manuel Miranda; Bake Sale with Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman (SMITTEN KITCHEN EVERY DAY, Knopf); Art lessons with Adam J. Kurtz (1 PAGE AT A TIME, TarcherPerigee) and Siobhán Gallagher (WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, TarcherPerigee); Science with Summer Rayne Oakes (HOW TO MAKE A PLANT LOVE YOU, Optimism Press); Women’s Studies with Shelby Lorman (AWARDS FOR GOOD BOYS, Penguin); Spelling (as in spells and enchantments!) with Mya Spalter (ENCHANTMENTS, Random House); and an event-wide Britney Spears sing-along with Laura Hankin (HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT, Berkley) to wrap the day.

In case you missed it, you can also watch this super cool time-lapse, shop Book Fair favorites, and listen to the event playlist on Spotify.


Posted: December 3, 2019