School District Cuts Ties With Book Firm
Growing up, one of the things I looked forward to in school--the highlight of the month as far as I was concerned--was receiving the Scholastic Book Club flier. Pages and pages (6-8 pages) of books to oodle. Taking the flyer with pen in hand, I could look for at least an hour. Marking which books I most wanted. I always marked more than I could ever have afforded. But that was part of the fun. Books ranging in price from 99 cents (or was it 95 cents???) on up. There were always plenty of options under $5. True, you could find the Narnia boxed set or the Little House boxed set at least once a year that would have been a bit pricier. But still. Tons of paperback books for under $5. And a handful of hardback books for under $10 or $12. My parents didn't let me order books every month. (My allowance was about $2.50 a week. And I had plenty of other wants like Barbie dolls and stuffed animals.) But when I could, I would. It was a hugely satisfying experience. From the day the catalog arrived and the fliers were sent home, to the day the checks were due back at school, to the day the box of books arrived and the books handed out to kids.
As an adult, my ties weren't completely severed with the glory of the Scholastic book club. My sister is a first grade teacher. But even when she was a teacher-in-training, a college student, a student intern, whatever, she was on the mailing list. So to this day I have a slight "in" with the club. (Although for the record, I haven't ordered books recently.) But I did look at the November and December catalogs. It was fun to see such GREAT books available for such GREAT prices. True, there is always junk amongst the treasure. The Barbie and Barney among the true greats like Mo Willems. But still. True, if I were queen of the universe I'd have less emphasis on movie tie-ins and toys, but even with its flaws, I mostly have nothing but good to say about the concept.
Who could find fault with something that puts books into the hands of kids at affordable prices? Who could find fault with something that offers so much potential. The points the teacher earns, the class earns, goes toward free books for the classroom. So even if individual kids can't spend a couple of bucks of their own money to buy books. They still benefit from the growth of the classroom library.
Well, the Vancouver Public School District apparently has found fault--so called "legal fault" with the system. The parents and teachers ARE UNHAPPY for the most part about the decision.
Teacher-librarian McKinley said that rookie teachers build their classroom libraries with points earned from Scholastic sales in their classrooms. Those points turn into free books.
“They have good sales — 99 cents, $2.95,” she said. “It’s really hard to find those kind of rates anywhere else.”
That may be, but Vancouver school district officials doesn’t want to burden students with take-home fliers from businesses.
“If we allow Scholastic Book Clubs, there’s no reason we couldn’t allow any other commercial endeavor,” Murdock, the legal counsel, said.
I think in this situation NO ONE wins. Parents and students are denied access to affordable, mostly-quality literature. Teachers are indirectly denied free books and great classroom resources. Kids don't have equal access to great books. They don't. The Scholastic Book Clubs are a good blend of new and old. Old favorites that have stood the test of time. But at the same time offering new literature--recent favorites and award winners. It highlighted new authors and established authors.
Now I won't deny that Scholastic likes to make money. It is a business. But really selling books is a win-win situation. Everyone benefits. The benefits of kids reading books--either at home or at school--far outweighs the commercial aspects.
Irrelevant Side Note: The Scholastic Book Clubs are turning 60!!! Who knew????