Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Scholastic Book 'n Toy Clubs?

An organization called Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood has recently charged Scholastic, Inc with overpopulating its monthly book club fliers with toys instead of books. By the campaign's count, 14% of the book club's products are not books, and another 19% were books packaged with something else, like stickers.

While I respect the goal of CCFC, I feel that should they succeed in eliminating toy sales from the book clubs and fairs, they'll likely eliminate the book clubs and fairs themselves. My school has tried working with local bookstores to create books-only book fairs. The resulting events have been miserable failures. Further, Scholastic is able to offer huge amounts of book credits to schools providing much needed classroom and library books. Our school uses those book credits, in part, to give books away, helping kids who may not have been able to purchase any. No other book sale I've been involved with has the net result of putting so many books in the school.

The real problem here, is that schools are in a position to have to sell books in the first place. The only reason schools offer Scholastic clubs is to supplement their woefully underfunded book budgets. Washington State, where I live, provides schools $5 per student per year for library books, and about $40 per student per year for textbooks. That's absurd. Personally, I think the CCFC would do a great deal more good if they focused their efforts on lobbying congress for adequate basic education funding. Scholastic is a publisher that, despite all the furry pens and sparkly stickers, is doing a decent job getting books into kids' hands.

Cross-posted to Under the Covers

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