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Scholastic: Put Books back in Book Clubs (not plastic trinkets, mass media and junk food!)

02.14.10 Scholastic: Put Books back in Book Clubs (not plastic trinkets, mass media and junk food!)

For my first few years teaching, like all the teachers around me, I passed out those Scholastic Book Order forms, and collected the family’s checks, and sent them in. I collected points, got free teachers books, and was indifferent to the whole thing. My students got more affordable books, and I got much needed teaching resources. I didn’t like tallying all those order forms, or filling out the paperwork in my limited prep time, but I did it anyway when I was able to. 

Then I picked one up, a few years later, and noticed they started selling video games. The first one I noticed was a John Madden football game. I paused, flipped the book club form over and thought, you’ve got to be kidding me. So I looked closer. I saw cheap jewelry undoubtedly made in China and potentially lead laden attached in plastic to a princess book, or celebrity book, or some other gender stereotyping paper posing as literature. 

When you take a close look, Scholastic is basically using teachers as salespeople to sell and support mega corporations (Disney) and mainstream shows (like Spongbob square pants). According to the Campaign for a Commerical Free Childhood, "A review by CCFC of Scholastic's elementary and middle school book clubs found that one-third of the items for sale are either not books or are books packaged with other items such as jewelry and toys."

And last year, again according to CCFC, Scholastic made $336.7 million in revenue from school book club orders. 

So now I tell my students to go down to our local independent bookstore, or the used book store down the street, to buy their books. Or take them out from our library. My students ask me why I don’t pass out the little book club forms and I explain this, in addition to a plug for supporting local and independent businesses. 

And the CCFC is taking this fight right to Scholastic. They want the company that has such a huge and unique access to our children to make the focus of in school book clubs to be, well, books. Good books.

"It's bad enough that so many of the books sold by Scholastic are de-facto promotions for media properties like High School Musical and SpongeBob. But there's no justification for marketing an M&M videogame or lip gloss in elementary schools. Teachers should not be enlisted as sales agents for products that have little or no educational value and compete with books for children's attention and families' limited resources. If Scholastic wants to maintain their unique commercial access to young students, they need to do better.

We know that Scholastic listens to your concerns. When 5,000 of you wrote them to demand that they stop promoting the highly sexualized Bratz brand in schools, they discontinued their Bratz line. So please visit this link to let Scholastic know it's time to return to selling books- and only books - through their in-school book clubs."

Amen to that. And while I'd rather have my dollars go to our local independent bookstore, I realize Scholastic book clubs are convenient and affordable for many families. So Scholastic, let's make it about reading, not cheap imported goods bad for our children and the earth, but very profitable for celebrities, video games, and mainstream media PR campaigns.

Are you a teacher?  Sign this petition to tell Scholastic to just sell books to our kids

Not a teacher?  Here's a way to send this to teachers you know.


(originally published on Non-Toxic Kids)


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